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Paul Smith’s Tomboy Turn

Godfrey Deeny
September 20th, 2010 @ 7:19 PM - London

If New York was all about an edgy new femininity, then London has been enjoying a more mannish moment, most crisply at Paul Smith, where a newly chic tomboy ruled the catwalk.

The U.K.’s most successful designer, Smith is better known for his menswear, and much of his deep knowledge of fabrication, suiting and masculine materials was apparent in this show, staged Monday, Sept. 20, during London Fashion Week.

The keynote look was a combination of pencil pants paired with college kid vertical striped shirt, though topped with posh punk quiffs of hair. But Smith is such a great tailor he then ventured into new sartorial territory with some striking hot-pant meets tailored vest single looks. Made in super fine wool, the sort rich Italian bankers prefer, the models clearly loved these clothes, which were classy and quirky in equal parts.

The American season also underlined the influence of Blake Lively, the blonde star of hit TV series “Gossip Girl,” and her weakness for shorts and hot pants. But it being London, the item was displayed a good deal more tongue in cheek – here, with a club-like background of portraits and etchings, brainy movie producer like shades and broken polka-dot fabrics.

One other great idea was reinventing the classic brogue for women, like mixing leather with malleable plastic or cutting off the backs for a brogue meets babouche, or Moroccan slipper, that are sure to be a hit.

Smith has always been a commercially astute designer, with a great sense of what works at the cash resister. This collection will surely do well, Particularly in his latest store, a women’s boutique, which the British designer trumpeted in a witty postcard placed in each seat.

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