Paul Smith, the renowned British fashion designer, took centre stage at Paris Fashion Week ‘23 with his SS24 men’s collection, delving into the realm of tailoring in a refreshing and playful manner. “Tailoring is so often thought of as such a serious business, but I’ve always been keen to show people how much fun you can have with it—especially now, says Paul Smith.
The presentation paid homage to the suit, a timeless symbol of menswear, while simultaneously subverting traditional tropes and incorporating influences from workwear and military uniforms. Smith’s impeccable craftsmanship and keen sense of style were evident throughout the collection, with references drawn from his extensive archive spanning several decades.
Paul Smith Reimagines Smart Dressing
Under the banner of “The Suit (But Different),” the show presented a captivating reinterpretation of smart dressing. The fluid silhouette traversed a spectrum of precise, trim cuts in classic suiting fabrics to billowy, exaggerated shapes in lighter-weight casual materials. Blending workwear and utility-inspired elements, the collection showcased tab waists, wider lapels on suit jackets, stitched carpenter-style trousers, and six-button double-breasted jackets. This military-meets-mod mood added an edgy yet sophisticated touch to the ensembles.
Playful Pairings and Archetypal Tropes
While emphasising the artistry and expertise of tailoring, Paul Smith’s collection did not shy away from his signature playfulness. The incorporation of boxer shorts, both tailored and classic striped, alongside traditional suiting and workwear jackets created a unique juxtaposition, resulting in the unconventional “Breakfast Suit.” Relaxed, pyjama-inspired looks were skillfully styled with matching ties, blurring the boundaries between formal and casual attire. Additionally, the “Canadian Tuxedo,” featuring a denim trucker jacket and barrel-fit jeans, showcased Smith’s confidence in challenging menswear conventions.
Paul Smith’s “The Suit (But Different)” Nods to Tradition
Respecting traditional menswear codes, the collection featured pinstripes, herringbone suede, polka dots, waistcoats, and the timeless three-piece suit. These elements, recurrent themes in Paul Smith’s recent collections, added a touch of classic sophistication to the contemporary designs. In a subtle nod to Smith’s passion for cycling, footwear styles such as Derby shoes and sneakers incorporated perforations reminiscent of vintage cycling shoes, infusing the collection with a sense of nostalgia and personal connection.
A Palette of Confidence
Inspired by a single frame from Lawrence of Arabia, the confident color palette combined sandy neutrals, cool charcoal, rich blacks, and soft blues. Pops of red punctuated the collection, serving as vibrant punctuation marks amidst the subdued tones. Fabrics showcased lightweight interpretations of classic suiting, including puppytooth and pinstriped cloths, alongside slub satin, cotton canvas, and textured knits, adding depth and texture to the ensembles.
Prints with Personality
Elevating the collection further, the prints showcased Paul Smith’s trademark sense of humour. The “Life Drawing” print, a whimsical collage of archival tailoring, suit patterns, and neoclassical references, injected a touch of colour and visual intrigue. A trompe l’oeil print featuring archival suiting imposed on silken shirts offered a refined interpretation of a tongue-in-cheek trope, while the “Morning Light” print mimicked rays of sunshine streaming through Venetian blinds, evoking a sense of warmth and vitality.
Without an iota of doubt, Paul Smith’s SS24 men’s collection flawlessly blends the artistry of tailoring with a sense of playfulness, bringing joy back into smart dressing. It is yet another display of a unique vision for summer collections, using light suits and satin fabrics wearable for summer. A set standard for young designers and fashion enthusiasts.