Sir Paul Smith's Award Winning Paris Weekend

Godfrey Deeny
January 22nd, 2012 @ 2:00 PM - Paris

If any designer has had a busy weekend in Paris, it must be Sir Paul Smith who found time not only to stage a sleek runway show on the Rive Gauche, but also to receive the city's highest honor on the other side of the Seine.

The U.K. knight was one of two Brits awarded the Medal da la Ville de Paris by Mayor Bertrand Delanoe in city hall on the Right Bank of the Seine.

"I am extremely honored and rather touched. Plus it's nice to be popular on both sides of the Channel!" said Sir Paul, who picked up his medal on Friday night. Also receiving the distinction was Joan Burstein, the distinguished owner of Brown's, perhaps London's single most famous fashion boutique.

Two days later, on Sunday, Jan. 22, Smith staged a succinctly edited fall 2012 men's collection which effectively acted as a comment on his own global career. Smith has crossed the English Channel for over two decades to present his men's shows in Paris and his invitation and inspiration was fittingly the sea.

Waves rippled over a seascape invitation, bold backdrop and stormy prints used in sweatshirts and jumpers in this show, staged in the English knight's preferred French show locale - a medieval convent in St Germain.

But the key to this collection was Smith's insightful new tailoring, like when he combined felt waistcoats and biker jacket leather sleeves in one great new garment, and where he revamped a conventional puffer jacket as a cool new courtier's vest.

Smith was also right in synch with the Paris season's key color palette - black and blue, especially midnight and petrol blue with anthracite and black steel. He employed the combo in wrap coats trimmed in metallic gold, padded storm coats and even some jaunty blue wingtips with deliberately blackened toes.

Sir Paul took his customary full stroll down the catwalk. For a high-ego profession, surprisingly many designers merely peak out of the backstage. And in a nice touch, the music as he trotted past the models was a noisy British marching band tune. It seemed just right since Sir Paul, after all, is England's most successful independent designer and the most influential Britain in men's fashion in the past half century. No wonder the French gave him a medal. About time too.


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