Paul Smith S/S 2018

The London-based designer unveils a retrospective and kaleidoscopic collection

4 male models wearing sunglasses & brightly coloured shirts
Paul Smith S/S 2018. Photography Jason Lloyd-Evans
(Image credit: Jason Lloyd-Evans)

Scene setting: The backdrop to Smith’s second co-ed show was a large multi-stripe frosted acrylic, the catwalk a soft lilac carpet. The label is known for print and colour. The frontage of its LA store is now one of the most Instagrammed buildings in California. The hot pink façade at 8221 Melrose Avenue is the selfie backdrop of choice, so much so that a parking lot attendant is now installed to manage the camera wielding crowds. Instagram approached Smith earlier this month to ask if they could paint the store's west-facing wall in rainbow stripes for LA Pride – Smith’s iconic pattern re-appropriated and re-engaged. His is a label full of pep and passion and the S/S 2018 collection had its fair share of breezy positivity.

Mood board: In the early 70s, Smith would visit New York and return to Nottingham with trunks of Hawaiian shirts, which were then worn at Northern Soul nights to heavy beats and pounding rhythms. Smith took this interest and developed his own printed shirts, which forty years later have become something of a signature. For S/S 2018 he looked under the ocean, so a floral and aquatic theme is peppered throughout the collection, either embroidered onto the satin lapels of tuxedos, hand-painted on leather jackets or used as prints on technical. The square shouldered silhouette of the tailoring is taken from pieces in the archives dating back to the 1980s.

Sound bite: On the silicone fish invites for the S/S 2018 show, Smith said: ‘I chose quite an oceanic theme for the new collection, which influenced the palette, the prints and all aspects of the design. I saw these plastic fish postcards on a trip to Japan and thought they’d be the perfect invite. On the packaging I’ve used one of the kitsch graphic prints, which you will have seen on the catwalk.’ 

2 male models in pastel coloured clothing pose next to a female model

(Image credit: Jason Lloyd-Evans)

Close up shot of outfit details including fish key rings attached to model's belt

(Image credit: Jason Lloyd-Evans)

3 male models wearing tropical night printed shirts

(Image credit: Jason Lloyd-Evans)

3 models line up wearing brightly coloured suits

(Image credit: Jason Lloyd-Evans)

London based writer Dal Chodha is editor-in-chief of Archivist Addendum — a publishing project that explores the gap between fashion editorial and academe. He writes for various international titles and journals on fashion, art and culture and is a contributing editor at Wallpaper*. Chodha has been working in academic institutions for more than a decade and is Stage 1 Leader of the BA Fashion Communication and Promotion course at Central Saint Martins. In 2020 he published his first book SHOW NOTES, an original hybrid of journalism, poetry and provocation.