Collaging colours, textures and fabrics, Paul Smith Spring/Summer ’20 took its inspiration from Paul’s Seventies trips to downtown New York. 

Visiting New York in the 1970s, Paul experienced the vibrancy and energy of SoHo’s burgeoning art scene. At that time galleries like OK Harris, Pace and Leo Castelli digressed from the establishment in the Upper East Side and opened spaces in the bustle of Downtown. The city’s young artistic community relished how unconstrained their creativity could be in warehouse-like studios and with access to materials from Pearl Paint and the hardware shops that filled Canal Street. 

On the catwalk an intentional scruffy elegance prevails. The personal wardrobes of the creative people that Paul came to know on his New York trips inspire the collection. At that time an artist’s tailored suit could double as overalls and self-expression through style came with your interpretation of everyday items like an oversized jacket or a customised cotton shirt.

Tailoring evolves beyond nostalgia. Function and utility are key and suits are soft and wearable in construction. The practicality of a pair of drawstring tracksuit trousers in sage nylon juxtaposes with an oversized double-breasted jacket in plongé leather, colours slightly mismatched. Double-faced quilted silk is used in men’s and women’s and pinstripes appear matte on cotton tailoring for women and with a shine on a more technical tailoring cloth for men. Throughout, suits are worn oversized with jackets longer, lapels wider and trousers higher on the rise.

The collection’s colours nod to a Pop Art palette building from pastels of dusty pink and caramel to electric hues of strong yellow and blue. A screen print floral is filled with the DIY attitude so common amongst the people Paul encountered on his Seventies trips. Flashes of a graphic rabbit are a take on Pop Artists’ re-appropriation of iconic brand logos. Famed for his love of rabbits Paul re-appropriates his own icon in Pop Art style.

The modern jazz that fills the soundtrack references Paul’s memories of loft jazz from those same early trips across the Atlantic. Contemporary musicians like Makaya McCraven pay homage to Miles Davis but are also trailblazing a new jazz sound using analogue methods to collage together tracks, true to the spirit of the artists that inspire the Paul Smith Spring/Summer ’20 collection.