British designer Paul Smith showcased his womenswear Autumn/Winter 2012 collection as part of London Fashion Week a few weeks ago. Eschewing the main runway space that the British Fashion Council reserved for most designers, Smith chose (for the second consecutive season) the vast and sumptuous surroundings of the Royal Horticultural Halls.
In its attempt to capture the heydays of aristocratic elegance and glamour, the collection presented a range of designs that will undoubtedly prove to be commercially successful, even if they did not come across as creatively daring as one would expect. Unlike the Autumn/Winter 2011 womenswear collection, which was shown against the lavish backdrop of London's Savoy hotel and celebrated masculine cut and tailoring applied to feminine silhouettes, Paul Smith's collection for Autumn/Winter 2012 felt almost safe and lacking in the outstanding shapes and colours that the designer had got his followers used to.
The range's shapes included oversized outerwear, pleated trousers, long silk dresses, and sheer blouses with contrasting collars. In addition, crushed velvet skinny pants and jackets, and tuxedos and smoking suits played a key role in the collection. Highlighting the contrasting feel and finish of heritage cloths and yarns, barley checks and Prince of Wales motifs were layered alongside two-tone flannels, mohair and merino wools. Colours included different shades of blue as well as dark reds, such as Bordeaux, plum and burgundy.
Undoubtedly, this was another competent range of clothes by Paul Smith where masculine tailoring was adroitly incorporated to the benefit of women's fashion. However, those who have been following Smith's career and have witnessed his previous runway shows left feeling that this was a collection where patterns and colours ultimately failed to show this talented designer's creative genius to best advantage.
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