For spring/summer 14, Paul Smith Jeans draws on the eclectic and unorthodox style of Sun Ra, one of the most renowned avant-garde jazz musicians of the 20th century.
Born Herman Blount, he became Sun Ra following a series of astral revelations and later claimed that he was born on Saturn, not Earth. Sun Ra expressed his flamboyant nature in experimental sounds and a dazzling dress sense. This cosmic influence permeates the new Paul Smith Jeans collection, in standout prints and textures inspired by the sartorial choices of the jazz icon.
Echoing the trajectory of Sun Ra’s career from the mainstream to the experimental, the colour palette ranges from more subdued shades of indigo, tobacco and gold to psychedelic pinks and oranges.
Strong graphics and polka dots take centre stage with exclusively created prints building on a planetary theme, in addition to the herringbone and leopard patterns once favoured by Sun Ra. These influences extend to the shoe collection, with casual camisole footwear contrasting with sneakers highlighted with a space-age metallic-purple lustre or a version constructed from coarse, textured blue maharam, a fabric traditionally used in furnishings.
Soft, unstructured tailoring and light jersey, needlecord and shirting materials give the collection a summery, casual air. Garment dying lends an interesting irregularity to the shirts, resulting in softer colouring for the main body contrasting with the heavier shades of the seams. Polka-dot discharge-printed linen, in which bleach is used to lift colour from the fabric, adds to the worn, vintage feel of the collection.
Outerwear combines the visually striking and the practical, with highlights including three-times dry and aluminum-backed fabrics designed to insulate heat. Suede jackets see a focus on detailing, from astral-themed pockets to perforated decoration.
Within Paul Smith Jeans is Red Ear, a capsule collection born out of Paul’s travels in Japan. Red Ear is the term used in Japan for the selvedge on jeans.
The inspiration for the Red Ear collection is Manzo Nagano, the first Japanese person to officially emigrate to Canada, in 1877. A mix of Oriental and nautical themes emerges in the palette of indigos and other rich tones. The jeans, which are made from Italian selvedge denim created on narrow-width Japanese looms, cover a spectrum of light and dark washes and are assembled in the UK.
The Japanese cottons and fine cloths, including pyjama-cloth shirting, are patterned with designs drawing on the items Nagano took with him on his trip. These are combined with Italian fabrics, heavily stitched to create a workwear look, with highlights including shirts constructed from mixed-patterned materials.