“Don’t worry, the models are social distancing,” said Paul Smith, gesturing to the headless mannequins wearing his latest coed creations in the brand’s London showroom. The men’s and women’s collections, he said, were designed over the phone and via Zoom. They would have hit the Paris runway in June, had it not been for COVID-19.
The inspiration, not surprisingly for these disrupted times, was nostalgia for holidays past and a yearning to hop on a plane and travel once again. During a walk-through, Smith said he and his wife Pauline, a meticulous archivist of family photos, looked at albums of former trips and reminisced.
Those pictures inspired Smith to work shades such as Tuscan terracotta, yellow and sky blue into this collection, which is about 20 percent smaller than last season due to the limitations forced on almost all fashion companies by the pandemic.
While the collection may have been smaller, the imagery and press material was rich: Smith created a film and a moodboard-like book filled with a collage of personal holiday snaps, exotic stamps, postcards, hotel stickers (the kind people used to put on suitcases) and photo slides.
Tailored pieces for men and women alike were easy and soft-edged, including blouson jackets, wide-leg trousers, shorts and slim suits with lots of stretch.
For women there were sundresses featuring archive flower prints, and white cotton skirts and tops with tie details at the wrist or neck. Fluid jackets and trousers came in sky blue or dusty rose, and some were paired with lightweight knits in terracotta.
For men, those archive flower prints — some micro, some macro — were splashed onto shirts and shorts, while monochrome suits conjured the gardens of Provence in shades of mint, lavender and bougainvillea pinkish-red. The suits — slim and stretchy, or loose and breezy — came with boxy flower-print tops or zip front knits.