Paris Fashion Week: Paul Smith and the power of positive thinking
PARIS -- As an unrepentant recidivist optimist, I appreciated Paul Smith's Spring/Summer 2010 collection, not only for the clothes, but also because, as the last major show on the men's Paris Fashion Week calendar, it took us out on a high note, managing to hit on several of the major themes from both cities -- the varied hues of blue, the sheer, gauzy fabrics, the wrinkled, crumpled look, the emphasis on prints, the subtle references to weather -- and making us tap our toes and crack a smile and remember that it's always sunny above the clouds.
That last line may sound trite, but the invitations to Smith's show, as well as the backdrop at his show, featured an image of puffy white cloud cover and blue sky -- the kind you see when you're on a plane at 30,000 feet winging your way to a tropical vacation, about 13 seconds after you begin sipping your first mai tai. It may be raining underneath those clouds, but up here? It's all good.
Although travel and tropical climes are a traditional subtext for the men's spring-summer collections, Smith brought it to the fore with his narrow-collared, tailored take on the aloha shirt -- some with travel-postcard prints, others with botanical prints of pineapples (and, oddly enough, mushrooms).
The pineapple motif, a traditional symbol of hospitality (not to mention a traditional anniversary gift to my better half, Mrs. Rage) also appeared as embroidery, both on a silk varsity jacket and more subtly as tone-on-tone embellishment on the lapels of a shawl-collar tuxedo.
There was much more in Smith's fruit basket -- a cornucopia of color that included electric blues, nearly blinding reds, powerful purples (this is where the leprechaun says, "It's magically delicious!") as if each of the color slices in Smith's signature stripe had suddenly gotten its own day in the sun.
And, just in case anyone was slow to pick up on Smith's upbeat message, one T-shirt proclaimed it (in vintage-postcard style) in a single word: YES.
As the models began their finale walk, the soundtrack abruptly shifted from the Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer" to Michael Jackson's "Thriller," and the staid strut morphed into a Mardi Gras-style dance procession, moving down the catwalk en masse.
It was an exuberant cacophony of color, sound, motion and emotion and the perfect cap on a week few at the shows will ever likely forget.
I hadn't planned on taping the show but at the last minute broke out the trusty Flip video and captured about 30 seconds of it. If you've ever looked at the runway shows and wondered if anyone could possibly enjoy themselves, click below for the answer.
Photos from the Spring / Summer 2010 Paul Smith men's runway show in Paris, June 28, 2009. Credit: Jonas Gustavsson. Video by Adam Tschorn.