After a strange and disruptive 12 months, things are looking up for Paul Smith, who said his fall 2021 men’s collection sales are above target and, not surprisingly, skewed toward Asia. He’s also planning to reopen most of his shops next month as lockdown eases in the U.K., and for the first time in years he’s showing his women’s collection separately from the men’s “because I feel more confident about it,” said the designer in an interview, adding that he plans to continue in the same vein.
Although they’re being shown separately, the two collections have sprung from the same place. In January, the designer had admitted it was difficult to find inspiration during lockdown with travel off the agenda, museums closed and people holed up at home (except for Smith, who goes to work each day at his London HQ, turning the lights on and off and emptying the wastepaper baskets). A creature of habit, Smith has also kept up his early-morning exercise ritual; instead of swimming at his club, which is temporarily closed, he’s taken up Pilates to stay nimble.
He described both men’s and women’s as “lockdown collections,” with military, Mod, grunge and English sport references, as well as masculine tailoring. He revealed the women’s collection with a 20-photo look book rather than filming a runway show as he did with men’s wear.
His fall collection was a lineup of mannish shapes, including fluid trenches and wide-leg trousers with a 1940s edge; slim four-button suits with kick flare trousers, and topcoats galore — in tomato-colored leather, check or dusty rose wool. A bohemian vibe filtered through the collection with paisley dresses, scarves and pajama trousers, and there was a collegiate feel, too, in the form of roomy striped cardigans and skinny knit skirts.
It was a collection very much of-the-moment — practical, easy and built to last.