Paul Smith Ready To Wear Spring Summer 2012 London

Damn girl, you’re sexy. Today’s Paul Smith female is the woman that a lot of straight men dream about and from the clothes, it’s clear that Smith adores his muse too which isn’t always a prerequisite for a designer. It’s easy to imagine Clémence Poésy, Cécile Cassel or Mélanie Laurent dashing from butcher to baker and recording studio in any of these outfits. Why name French girls? Because this collection is straight-up chic. Okay so Smith isn’t reinventing the wheel, he’s not proposing futuristic shapes or uber-technical, wrought fabrics - the guy’s sending shirts, as if borrowed from boyfriend or husband, down the runway - but it’s the design that ensures, top to toe, every look is balanced and effortless.

The Paul Smith woman puts together ensembles that take elements from mens formal wear as a baseline for her daywear and puts it all together in a relaxed manner which allows natural, luminous sex appeal to ooze at every stage. As each of the looks appeared, I was reminded of an outfit worn by Emmanuelle Alt at the Maison Martin Margiela couture show in the first weeks of public outings following her appointment as editor of French Vogue. Did she wear outrageous heels, a bowl of oranges on her head or fresh-off-the-runway items? The complete opposite: plain, black stilettos, skinny jeans (rolled to above the ankle), a classic blue shirt unbuttoned nonchalantly at the neck with a lick of mascara. She looked amazing, it was hard not to gawk. In light of the nigh hysterical fever surrounding her appearances, this smart/casual, no brand outfit conveyed innate confidence and insouciant charm; it played the whole situation down. Classy lady, that one.

Back to Paul Smith. A high-waisted, voluminous skirt in primrose yellow was paired with golfing shoe inspired flats. Primrose appeared again on ankle booties that also came in leopard print which in one instance were proposed with a nearly sheer, light blue dress that was worn with a claret fedora with orange trim. Divine. The leopard print boots and loafers are a theme continued from the SS12 menswear collection where leopard print desert boots padded across the runway. As with the menswear collection, Paul Smith’s vibe for his ladies is rock’n’roll inspired: louche trousers, bed-hair, a shower-proof mac with collars firmly turned up, red patent Chelsea boots, dark sunglasses. Top notch fashionistas probably never consider Paul Smith when choosing outfits to run the bloggerazzi pit at Jardin Des Tuileries in Paris because the brand image has a vague 90s hangover but more’s the pity as Paul Smith is everything Agnes B should be but hasn’t been for years. Isabel Marant has gone doolally with her prices so there's a gap here that this collection by Smith could fill. In 2011 the Paul Smith woman is one cool chick; natch. (words: Sarah Hay)

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