Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Classic designs with a twist? That's Paul Smith

I'm not a big fan of too much variation on traditional styles of clothing and accessories.

Somehow, though, Paul Smith has the right amount irreverence to his pieces. His is a sensibility that recognizes simplicity, and then gives it a quarter turn, just enough to keep your attention. And, as you keep looking at his presentation, you ask yourself, "Why does it work?"

The Nottingham, England, native has a wide-ranging palate of collections that also include fragrances, furniture, china and rugs. Such interests are not new, as Ralph Lauren also offers a diversity of items in addition to its core business of clothing. But where Lauren's Polo preserves traditional designs, Smith embraces a little room for interpretation, which makes his collections more hip.

That's quite an accomplishment. For one who has established operations in Italy as well as England, Paul Smith has maintained a decidedly British flavor throughout his creations. From wallets and cuff links to scarves and ties, Smith is almost whimsical in his approach, but the results are as breezy as cool can be.

Just ask David Boris of Be Better Guys, headquartered in Washington, D.C. He says he's gotten newfound gumption to wear socks that stand out. The lead photo of his "discovery" is nothing less than Paul Smith hosiery.

I'll await the rest of Mr. Boris' ensemble with bated breath. He is indeed on the right track. Allow me to assist with a pair of Paul Smith shoes, like these wingtips below.

When I first saw Paul Smith shoes at Harrods in London, I was struck by the classic English looks being adapted to the elongated design that is characteristic of Italian footwear. This is not new, of course, but under the Smith banner, it's well executed. They can be worn in the workplace and outside of it, such as on the dance floor.

Don't worry if you can't make it to London; Paul Smith clothing in the U.S. does indeed exist. It's a pricey investment, but if you happen to be in the neighborhood of Smith merchandise, it's worth a look.

Needless to say, I became a fan.

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