Backstage, Paul Smith was showing off a roomy white shirt, swiveling the model around to show the black square printed on the back. “I couldn’t think of what to write,” he said.
As if! Marking half-a-century in fashion design, Smith is still enamored with suits and British checks, and still also finds new things to say with them.
Here was loose and long-line tailoring, headlined by low-slung and fly-fronted double-breasted jackets, white top stitching on lapels and trouser outseams. His checkered fabrics — coarse enough to sand a wooden table back in the day, he joked — were posh this time, sliced into handsome topcoats.
Smith has nimbly adapted to an increasingly casual world, offering denim suits in his signature photo prints, this time dark, muted florals that approximated camouflage. Big hoodies came in plush shearling.
Many of the clothes were interchangeable for men and women, including puddling wide-wale corduroy pants and jean jackets in Smith’s scrawled logo, enlarged so much as to resemble abstract squiggles. These were more appealing than a print depicting spaghetti on a plate.
Sir Ian McKellen, Jon Hamm, Susan Sarandon and Stanley Tucci were among the bold-faced names who gathered for this milestone show, which commenced with a strobe-light fast runway retrospective on a giant screen and ended with Smith alone bounding down the vast, blue-carpeted runway like a teenager on a sugar high. Happy anniversary Sir Paul!