Paul Smith Remembers the Self-Expression of the '60s

Sir Paul Smith has never been one to do thing subtlety, and this was especially true at this weekend’s Spring 2017 Menswear show, held at the Bourse de Commerce in Paris. With a runway composed of a rainbow-striped carpet and a Bob Marley track, the lineup was a hippie blend of Caribbean soul and the psychedelic age of London, which Smith first experienced as a teenager in the ‘60s. “They were always full of an eclectic mix of people," the designer said of the nightclubs of the age, like Whiskey-a-Go-Go and Flamingo Club. "Self-expression was the thing.”

This season, Smith elevated those ‘60s and ‘70s looks with modern cuts and a contemporary color palette that brought both the tropics and swinging London together beautifully. It was warm and happy, a theme brought to life through a number of models that couldn’t help but grin when walking down the candy-colored runway. A few basics, like jeans and t-shirts were emblazoned with the word peace, driving home Smith’s idea of a global community of love and prosperity. A sentiment perhaps, even closer to the British designer’s heart with the current climate in England.

While the collection was a cry for peace, it was also a lesson in British style—a presentation full of Smith’s iconic “classics with a twist.” Suits and jackets were well-tailored and trim, and used breathable Italian wool and fabrics rather than the cheap polyester of yesteryear. Color was heavy in the collection, but he used it with a practiced hand: polo collars were given bright strips, shirts were done in punchy plaids and suits were given subtle patterns. He was reserved when he needed to be, tossing a muted jacket over a neon button up or pairing loud pants with a neutral belt or accessory.

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