Paul Smith shows off boyish charms in London

Feb 22 — British designer Paul Smith has gone back to his roots in London Fashion Week with mannish suits for girls featuring ties, oversized coats and rolled-up trousers flashing socks and brogues.

Paul Smith
Paul Smith at London Fashion Week - A/W 2011-12 collection (photo by Pixel Formula)

Smith's first shop in 1970 sold menswear and he only branched out into women's clothing 15 years ago. His autumn-winter 2011 collection, unveiled on Monday, embraced that early boyish charm with sharp tailoring in cashmere, wool and silk.
"It was a collection that was going back to my roots," the designer told AFP after his show at the newly refurbished Savoy hotel in London.

"The reason I started clothes for women was because my girl customers were borrowing their boyfriend's clothes. It was a matter of well-cut clothes for women but with a boyish feel.

"And they are clothes for confident women, clothes for women who don't need to be attention-seeking."

Paul Smith
Paul Smith at London Fashion Week - A/W 2011-12 collection (photo by Pixel Formula)

Smith showed three-quarter length blue jeans turned up at the hems, revealing socks and patent black, red or brown leather brogues, as well as suits with waistcoats, patterned silk ties and striped or sheer shirts.

Flashes of colour -- a vivid orange coat, bright red cuffs, fuchsia trousers or flowers embroidered on a black silk jumpsuit -- brightened up an otherwise sedate palette of greys, blacks, browns, and dark blues.

Smith said the embroidery was added "because those sort of girls buy vintage, or would find something in their grandma's attic -- pure Paul Smith".

Paul Smith
Paul Smith at London Fashion Week - A/W 2011-12 collection (photo by Pixel Formula)

The models were ordered to slouch or walk down the catwalk just as they would walk down the street, he said, explaining: "I purposely said, don't be models, because they always do this silly horse walk. I was saying, no horses!"

And their hair was styled messy and tucked into their jacket collars, as if "they've stayed over at their boyfriends or just got up and they've put their hands through their hair", Smith said.

The collection reflects "people's minds -- not always having to show bare breasts or extravagant clothing to draw attention to yourself, but being at ease with yourself", he added.

Paul Smith
Paul Smith at London Fashion Week - A/W 2011-12 collection (photo by Pixel Formula)

Earlier, Burberry Prorsum embraced the mannish theme with black or white fur flat caps, but the British label's trademark coats were all feminine style as the models paraded on the catwalk under a blizzard of tumbling fake snow.

They were in white and black fur, or in bold shades of orange, red and blue in a wide variety of materials, and were detailed with military buttons and epaulettes, puffy sleeves or slim leather belts.

There was no question of the coats being ruined by the snow, however, as each model was given a see-through plastic cape to wear over their shoulders.

By Alice Ritchie

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