We’re only four months into 2022 and the collaborations just keep on coming. This one is special, though, uniting a British fashion legacy with a vanguard of London’s new wave in a flurry of brand codes and tailoring know-how. We’re of course talking about Paul Smith and Priya Ahluwalia, whose inaugural eleven-piece capsule is all about the give and take of style.
Borrowing and reinventing signature styles and classic fabric compositions as they chart a fresh course for menswear, Ahluwalia explains that the unexpected partnership was born out of both friendship and curiosity. “A while back, Paul so kindly invited me to come and meet him and learn about how he works, and I was blown away by him and his treasure trove of an office,” elaborates the designer. “The collaboration conversation happened naturally, and it has been such a pleasure to work with Paul and the Paul Smith team. They’ve been so supportive, and I’ve learnt a great deal from them.”
In practice, the collection sees Ahluwalia’s own personal archive of photographs taken in Nigeria and India coalesce with a slew of Smith’s vintage cycling gear in brightly coloured patchwork jumpers and vibrant safari shirts. Smith’s distinct plaid fabrics adorn hybridised aviator caps, blazers trousers and trousers crafted with sporty, pipe-seamed side-panels. And Ahluwalia totally goes to town on the prints, giving us vibrant sunsets, delicate flower motifs and plenty of feel-good slogan adornments.
Alongside the collection, the pair are also launching a mentorship programme with the Paul Smith Foundation that aims to nurture and connect with the up-and-coming generation of fashion designers, fostering the kinds of relationships that have made their own collaboration so enthralling. “While our styles may appear different at first glance, we’re coming at it from the same place: a real conviction that clothes should be a source of joy,” says Smith. “This collaborative collection is proof of that.”