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Paris Menswear Report
Paul Smith Rocks, But Does He Roll? - click for photos
Written by Timothy Hagy

PARIS, July 4 - Guests arriving for the Paul Smith show on Sunday afternoon were greeted by Handelian strains sung over the soundtrack by a choir of men and boys. Towering piles of very dusty looking books framed the runway in the court of the Ecole des Beaux Arts.

Displaying quintessentially British charm, Paul Smith chatted before the show. "The collections used to be called classic with a twist," he said. "Simple clothing with a little surprise. Now it's about color and print - a rock and roll collection. Men have grown more confident in the last 10 years or so."

Well, if the pre-show ambiance might have given a stuffy impression, that picture of British conservatism which manifests itself in pictures of the Royal Family, where even teenage princes are made to look old and drawn in their Savile Row suits: watch out!

To a grinding rock soundtrack out the boys came, filtering through the library wall and onto the pulsing catwalk. With rings on every finger, shirts strewn with flowers, scarves flowing and chains dangling, they laid to rest any preconceived notion of dryness, and instead headed straight for a 60s-era love in. By the time the floral brocades, which nearly resembled an 16th century tapestry, were summarily eclipsed by a finale of hotly colored print shirts, Paul Smith had more than proved that he could produce pieces decidedly un-Wills.

But does classical tailoring necessarily have to be transformed into sparkly Elvis belts and glittering guitar strap sacks just to give it a facelift? Well, not entirely so. The exquisite cut of the blazers, be that in Prince of Wales check, or the flower power jackets with pseudo-hippie motifs (some in satin) betrayed that silly notion.

The thing is that the contrasting prints and textures all worked, much in the sense of Christian Lacroix, who also draws inspiration from London in the 60s. The ideas just got a bit overheated.

Perhaps it might have been wiser to remember an adage steeped in tradition: less is more. Paul Smith is far too brilliant a designer to rock, but not roll.

Paul Smith Rocks, But Does He Roll? - click for photos

Dior, Gaultier, Kenzo, Marongiu, Matsushima, Paul Smith, Petrov, Dubuc, Simons, Vuitton

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