Inspired by a day spent gallery hopping around London on the hottest day of the year, Paul Smith’s SS23 men’s presentation in Paris revisits the 1980s art scene to offer a refined take on classic menswear silhouettes.
Taking you from morning to night on a scorching hot summer’s day, the collection presents an effortless retelling of traditional formal codes, reinterpreting classic 1980s tailoring and shirting with exaggerated proportions and a soft, tonal colour palette that spans shades of lavender, earthy brown, grey, pistachio, powder blue, cobalt, clay and coral.
The air is overwhelmingly relaxed. Silhouettes are intentionally styled to amplify contrasts, with billowing outerwear, louche pooling trousers and oversized, untucked shirts juxtaposed with boxy vests, wide shorts and cropped trousers.
The mainstay of formal menswear – the three-piece suit – is reinvented in a casual spirit in multiple combinations, including with a waistcoat-inspired vest, oversized shorts, belted jacket and car coat, while deliberate, considered layering throughout reinforces a sense of nonchalance and modernity.
Traditional shirting stripes – typically seen on vintage Oxford shirts – are subverted, mixed and matched and used across sportswear and technical styles, including an oversized pullover windbreaker, work jacket, collarless shirt and knitted vests. The footwear, too, reinforces the contrast between traditional elegance and sporty modernity, with high-shine cut-out leather loafers set atop a lightweight sole and classic crossover sandals on hiking-inspired commando soles.
Prints, meanwhile, refer to 1980s artistic techniques and media. For example, the ‘Hot Summer’ floral is stencilled and airbrushed for a hazy finish is seen across shirting and outerwear, including a sweeping trench coat. Similarly, the ‘Glow Polka’ print takes its cue from contemporary light installations and features across shirting and neon knitwear. A painterly finish is another key theme in this area, with the ‘Untitled’ stripe print, which features on a relaxed half-DB suit as well as a trench, created using an innovative combination of hand-painting, spray painting and screen-printing.
The interplay of texture and print was also particularly important this season. With specially developed fabrics and innovative techniques employed to showcase pattern with subtlety and richness. Fabrics themselves emphasise the contrast between formal and casual, blending traditional shirting poplin and worsted suiting materials with lightweight silks and technical nylons.
Held in Paris at a former post office, the industrial backdrop reinforced the collection’s artistic inspiration. Meanwhile, the music – an eclectic mix curated by renowned British DJ Gilles Peterson – blends techno, hip hop, post-disco, fusion jazz, reggae, new wave and electronica influences to reflect the vibrancy of summer. The show’s hair styling and grooming serves to underline the collection’s inspiration, with dewy, sun-kissed skin and gelled slicked back and spiked hair referencing the 1980s club scene.