Ode to Britannia

Sir Paul Smith takes us on a nostalgic trip down the memory lane of British subculture – key moments in cultural history that have shaped his 50 years in fashion – a cornucopia of prints, silhouettes, and textures – for his Paul Smith Autumn Winter 21 Men’s Show.

Lifestyle Insider Paul Smith AW21 Detail2 - king of the printed suit

It was a nostalgic look at British icons of season past, a cascade of prints, psychedelic groove, romanticism, and neo-punk for the legendary British designer who now celebrates 51 years in fashion. Models swagger through a corrugated grey-white backdrop (which turns out to be a hangar), to a funky beat, donning Sir Paul’s key British references, decade and epoch-wise, that have shaped his signature look – whether it’s flower child, punk, preppy, or mod. It’s Great Britannia at its best. For Autumn/Winter ’21 Paul Smith takes you on a journey through these subcultures that have signposted his career, remixing icons of British clothing design for a new generation.

Lifestyle Insider Colourful woollens at Paul Smith AW21 Lifestyle Insider Paisley pants and suede shoes at Paul Smith AW21 showcase a classic look

The year 2020 provided a unique moment of reflection for Paul Smith, with his landmark 50th anniversary celebrations followed by the imposed introspection of lockdown. And now, 2021 offers the opportunity to reset and rethink, resulting in remixed versions of some Paul Smith classics.

Lifestyle Insider Paul Smith AW21 - shearling jacket over a printed shirt Lifestyle Insider Paul Smith AW21 - psychedlic print shirt and tie

Key pieces nod to different subcultural moments that have influenced Paul over the last five decades of design. Tartan tailoring brings to mind 1970s ska, Terry Hall and The Specials. Generously proportioned wool coats, sheepskins and a modern take on the donkey jacket speak to 1980s new wave romanticism. Mohair knits are part punk, part preppy, while playing to Paul Smith’s great strength: stripes. Silk pajamas are confidently displayed, mixing a hint of 1970s psychedelia with the WFH mood of life in 2021. These individual references are confidently thrown together to create an eclectic “Best Of” album – a collection of rediscovered classics repackaged for a new generation.

Lifestyle Insider Paul Smith AW21 - slim ties and tapered pants of the 80s Lifestyle Insider Paul Smith AW21 - the rainbow stripe on a belt bag

A colour palette of rich, wintry greens, purples and browns are punctured by zesty highlights of lime, orange and pink. Floral prints create a sense of softness to sit in contrast with the utilitarian toughness of military jackets and heavy boots. As a pioneer of floral print for men, Paul continues to innovate with 3D florals printed onto leather and woven into fabric. A modernized paisley revives another Paul Smith signature pattern, while a Hawaiian print reminds Paul of the vintage shirts he would sell from his first Nottingham shop 50 years previously.

Lifestyle Insider Paul Smith AW21 Look 005 - an army flight jacket that's reversible Lifestyle Insider Paul Smith AW21 Look 015 - Harrington jacket

Julian Ganio’s father has long been a loyal customer and friend to Paul. Julian’s plundering of his dad’s Paul Smith archive for many years means he’s perfectly qualified to style the collection. The show features a troupe of Paul Smith characters, cast by Ben Grimes, each with their own unique personalities and interests – a true cross-section of the modern Paul Smith customer.

Lifestyle Insider Paul Smith AW21 Look 028 - turned up jeans and heavy black loafers reference the 80s punk era Lifestyle Insider Paul Smith AW21 Detail24 - inspired by the British trench coat but this time in wool

Director, George Harvey, turns his precise and refined eye to capturing the collection on film. Show music continues the magpie approach, selecting the highlights of many eras and genres. Imagine an extensive record collection, lovingly raided and remixed to create something new.

Lifestyle Insider Paul Smith AW21 Detail1 - heavy black shoes and turned up jeans of the 80s punks Lifestyle Insider Paul Smith AW21 - leather, plaid, and prints Lifestyle Insider Paul Smith AW21 - monochrome shades with texture and print play Lifestyle Insider Paul Smith AW21 Detail 15 - the rainbow stripe on a bag and the Harrington jacket Lifestyle Insider Paul Smith AW21 - neon orange utilitarian inspired jacket Lifestyle Insider Paul Smith AW21 - cream suede shoes Lifestyle Insider Paul Smith AW21 - cords, velvet, checks, mohair, wool - all the elements of British fashion Lifestyle Insider Paul Smith AW21 - classic plaid bag Lifestyle Insider Paul Smith AW21 - checked wool suit with punk pink and blue sweater underneath Lifestyle Insider Paul Smith AW21 - archival prints, stripes on wool, plaid and leather Lifestyle Insider Paul Smith AW21 - backpack with rainbow print detail Lifestyle Insider Paul Smith AW21 - a sharp fitted suit in the 80s style


Priya Kumari Rana

Lifestyle Insider is a kind of junction point, connecting people with diverse interests that touch on the more luxurious aspects of lifestyle – fashion, design, travel, food and spirits, art, watches and jewellery, cars, yachts, and aviation, and technology. People today don’t fit into boxes and categories. In our individual ways, we are interested in diverse themes, products, and the challenges that face our world today. You will judge how well this effort of mine caters to your passions and proclivities.

Lifestyle Insider is a showcase of all that is beautiful and luxe. Behind every creation, is a designer, chef, entrepreneur, or a design maison. I have delved into my own appreciation for objetsde luxe that I have admired over the years – be it a love of fashion from the world’s top Parisian and Italian fashion maisons and their ’90s muses, or the care that goes into sari and Indian textile collections in my own family. Growing up on four continents, as the daughter of a former Indian Ambassador, I’ve seen a remarkable array of historic places and met a myriad people. My aim is to bring my world view into this website, a curation of what I find particularly stunning, unique, and newsworthy.

It’s an exciting time for brands all over the world. With change comes opportunity. With the global ‘reset’ and uncertainty on many fronts, there is a chance to write a new script. Let’s be those pioneers.

A bit about me:
A luxury and fashion journalist with 25 years of experience in publishing and magazine journalism, I have edited some of India’s top fashion and luxury magazines. I got my BA in Comparative Literature from UC Berkeley, and went on to receive my Master’s in English and French from the University of Strasbourg, France. I have also studied German and Film. I live in Gurugram, India, and look forward to once again exploring our world with a new-found freedom.

Priya Kumari Rana

Founder and Editor

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