Paul Smith has been having a second - or maybe make that third or fourth - wind of late. His collections have been strong, relevant and, as is the brand’s DNA, cheerful - the fashion pack are keen to attend again. The Nottingham shopkeeper turned fashion master has always stayed popular with the man on the street, he just dropped behind the scenes for a few seasons when it came to hype in style magazines and editorials. But Smith’s skill has always been looking beyond the melee of the fashion pack and speaking to broader audiences. It’s this refusal to be wilfully niche or lofty that makes him seem so current now. Just like our politicians, shaken by Brexit, fashion leaders are realising that they can’t just shout into the echo chamber and target those who are just like them. To really grow and make impact they need to engage more broadly. A snobbishness about doing so feels ignorant now.
Aware of his reach and voice, Smith sought to give the world a pick me up - a much needed lift on the last day of the Paris shows. It was reggae spirit that had got him grooving for S/S 17 (he loves a dance). He was referencing the attire of revellers at London clubs like Flamingo and Whisky a Go Go in the sixties and seventies. Colours were bright, and checks and stripes bold. Styling was simultaneously nostalgic and modern. The trousers intrigued me most - some were a combination between a jogger, a combat and a skinny tailored pant. Slouchy, easy, casual. A sign that Smith is moving forward and whole heartedly embracing new dressing patterns, while putting his own twist on them. In a season dominated by the suit - even streetwear maestro Gosha Rubchinskiy opened his show with three of them - an original master like Smith could have easily done what he does best. But who can blame him for wanting to embrace change? There will be simple suits in the showroom of course, as the man himself reminded us backstage. The suits he did show were bright and vaguely silly - a lovely sunshine yellow one closed proceedings. A quick pick-me-up from the dark times this fashion season sat in the middle of. ‘Happiness - in this strange time we live in,’ said Smith backstage.