It's fair to say that this London Fashion Week has been dominated by the dress. From barely there shredded numbers at Mark Fast, to the omnipresent cocktail dress seen, well, everywhere, designers have decided that next summer will be a season of femininity. And so it was with welcome relief and, frankly, surprise, when Paul Smith sent his androgynous he-shes down the (super) long catwalk. Models appeared in full dandy attire - skinny polka dot cravats with silk three piece suits - but with a Fifties Teddy Boy twist thanks to overblown quiffs and thick rimmed glasses. Imagine Buddy Holly and Morrissey in the grounds of an English stately home playing croquet and sipping on Pimms. But the female version. And prettier. Whatever his references, Smith's gentlemanly tailoring was very attractive indeed. Eschewing the growing Seventies trend, suit trousers were slim fitting and low slung, while shirts were crisp and buttoned up. The shirt in fact, anchored the entire collection. Evolving from something plain and functional into a short and suggestive playsuit, it then transformed into a simple and elegant maxi dress, all the time retaining the classic Oxford shape. Of course, it wouldn't be a Paul Smith show without at least some dresses for the ladies, and so we were offered cutesy pinafores layered over striped knitwear as well as delicate satin numbers teamed with long blazers. As the femininity came into full swing, so did the patterns. Painted florals took over fabrics, as did playful polka dots. Interestingly, the colour palette owed more to autumn than summer, with sludgy greens and browns, taupe and majestic purple being favoured over anything more fresh. Short sharp shocks of neon yellow did, however, remind us that this was supposed to be the season of bright mornings and light evenings. Then again, Smith probably knows the British summer better than most designers, so perhaps he's bang on with his colour palette and lack of flimsy frocks. Hopefully not, but then it would be nice to wear those suits.
Imagine Buddy Holly and Morrissey in the grounds of an English stately home playing croquet and sipping on Pimms.