Fashion
  • Text Alex James Taylor
  • Photography Portia Hunt
  • 27th June 2016

Reasons to be cheerful

Sir Paul Smith definitely wins the SS17 awards for ‘most vibrant’ and ‘most Christmas-gift ready’ show invite, providing each attendee with a pair of branded rainbow-striped socks.

In 1966, the Nottingham-born Smith hit the M1 and headed to London, crashing on a friend’s floor in Notting Hill. It was this same year that the inaugural Notting Hill Carnival kicked off, and – having fallen for the multi-cultural celebrations – Smith found himself a home away from home.

For SS17, Smith brought the carnival to Paris (minus the jerk chicken and Red Stripe, sadly), promoting “a message of peace and positivity through a celebration of Caribbean culture”.

Signifiers of Caribbean island life were rife. A Bob Marley medley soundtracked the vivid colour blocking pieces that popped within a psychedelic pop-art spectrum, as Smith’s teenage nights at the Flamingo Club and Whiskey-a-Go-Go brought mod and hippy nuances into play (cue ‘Peace’ raglans and floral embroideries) merging two cultures with a common theme of unity.

“They were all interested in self-expression through the way they wore things,” Smith mused on the clientele that lit up those London drinking holes. “The collar up, the poseurs standing there, mixing clothes in a certain way.” His SS17 rude boys possessed that same upbeat flair, proudly clad in their tropical tartan fabric they walked with ease and comfort in summer-ready lightweight fits crafted with breathable Italian fabrics.

Many of the models stepped out with beaming smiles (“I was giving everyone a shoulder massage on their way out,” Smith told reporters post-show), conveying the self-expression Smith weaved through his collection. The world is looking particularly gloomy right now, but Smith was feeling optimistic as always and ’17’ graphic T-shirts offered reasons to be cheerful, convinced that next year will be happier and more peaceful. One thing’s for sure, if this is the uniform of 2017 the world will be a much brighter place.