CHARACTER STUDY: Sir Paul Smith took part in Milan men’s week Monday night by addressing the Camera Italian Buyer Moda, Italy’s fashion buying chamber. For starters, he spilled the beans on the spring collection he’ll show on the Paris runway Sunday. “I was inspired by my time working with Led Zeppelin when I first started my career. There’s a hint of rock, but it’s not a retrospective,” he said, describing shirts with silver-trimmed collars and slim jackets. But mostly he riffed on the need to stay focused and sharp. “It’s not enough to be only a designer, shopkeeper or magazine anymore. You have to make more effort,” said Smith. He revealed that he’d been approached during the economic crisis for a number of design collaborations involving hotels and phones, but declined them, emphasizing the importance of “doing things that are right, not easy.” He also trumpeted his preference for real people in his ad campaigns and the need for character in today’s competitive retail environment.

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