The very British Paul Smith faces off against France-based Japanese designer Kenzo
CHALLENGING familiar sartorial codes, designer Paul Smith once again underlined British style in his spring-summer 2019 collection shown at Paris Fashion Week.
Tailoring remains at the core of the Paul Smith world but where 500-gram tailoring cloth once prevailed, now the same shapes appear in lightweight 200-gram wool. Ease and function were celebrated with the looseness of silhouettes and the nuance of sportswear inspired by the designer’s own love of cycling. Pastels in bright and dreamy shades were mismatched in suits and on leather trousers and outerwear.
Women’s tailoring echoed the men’s in cut and cloth but showed a distinct identity in its fresh, strong attitude. Suits were broken into separates and hand-drawn prints danced across light but form-fitting dress shapes and skirts with structures striking a utilitarian theme. Checkerboard socks and intarsia knits delivered a touch of humour in signature Paul Smith style.
Having pioneered the use of photographic printing techniques in the early stages of his career, Smith revisited the process this season with a renewed precision and finesse. Archival photography by both the designer and his father appeared throughout the collection, most noticeably on outerwear for men and in a more painterly style on fluid dresses and coats for women.
In footwear, typically British designs were embraced and then exaggerated. The loafer and the Chelsea boot were given a twist in proportion and shape, often Goodyear welted. For women, there was a new lace-up ankle boot in snakeskin and handbags in a woven leather checkerboard.
Continuing the celebration of British design, the new Paul Smith collaboration with Cutler and Gross made its debut on the Paris catwalk, with iconic Cutler and Gross opticals given an health injection of Paul Smith colour.
Kenzo was the last to take the catwalk in Paris with its collections for men and women an invitation to celebrate summer ceremonies and rituals.
The men’s collection blended tailoring with sportwear through collarless double-breasted jackets with exaggerated reveres in cotton and linen with a light resin finish or in a rubberised cotton jacquard.
Coats were lightweight with deconstructed and soft shoulders or kimono-inspired in a slub cotton or nylon medallion print. Trousers and shorts were generous and bright, straight and chopped. Rose prints took on an acid check while vivid blues blended with neutral beige. The rubber jelly sandals alongside suede slipper moccasins revisited Kenzo’s men’s sonic sneaker.
The women’s collection focused on effortless deconstruction and the delicately disordered, matching classic fine fabrics such as flocked twill with georgette. Contrasting colours were matched too, with saturated acid yellow, cobalt, fuchsia meeting vivid prints of roses or checks.
Kenzo’s archive dot prints on layered twill brought extra scope to a traditional summer dress. Coats were embossed with python prints or in pink vinyl while cocoon bombers contrasted with strict tailored jackets. Voluminous nylon dresses boasted covered buttons in lilac and embroidery made its appearance on Victorian tops and overlaid dresses.
Two new styles in women’s accessories were inspired by different shaped carrier bags and colour blocked and embossed. Footwear boasted chunky platforms in checks along with delicate summer sandals with a contrast kitten heel rounding off the proportioned silhouettes.