Just as we were starting to wonder if fashion had abandoned its long-time love affair with rock 'n' roll for a prolonged fling with hip hop (after all, as Kanye West says, “we’re the new rock stars”), along came Sir Paul Smith with a show that conjured (and idealised) one of his music idols, 60s wild child Jim Morrison. The designer turned the Parisian Bourse du Commerce into a bohemian setting where long-haired models strolled to the sound of Soul Kitchen down a catwalk made of Persian rugs. Black leather trousers and charm necklaces were recurring throughout the collection, but most of the references to the infamous Doors frontman were far subtler. Here, AnOther presents our favourites.
Native American patterns
In 1947, Morrison (who was 4-years-old) witnessed a car accident in the desert in which a family of Native Americans was injured. The event made a deep impression on him (“he always thought about that crying Indian”, his father later said) and was later referenced, along with Native American culture, in many of his poems and songs (especially in “Peace Frog” and “Ghost Song”). In his show, Paul Smith included American motifs on scarves and canvas sneakers.
"Sir Paul Smith turned the Parisian Bourse du Commerce into a bohemian setting where long-haired models strolled to the sound of Soul Kitchen"
The neon signs along the California highways
Two sweaters stood out in the show (and made buyers gasp with excitement): one was bubble-gum pink and featured a flamingo, the other was beige and had palm trees beaded into it. Both were references to the neon signs present in every American highway. Although born in Melbourne, Florida, Morrison spent much of his childhood and teenage years travelling across the United States, from New Mexico to Texas, to California.
The French “Poètes Maudits”
At 21, Morrison moved to Los Angeles to study at UCLA, where he enrolled in the Comparative Literature program. The singer read the works of Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud, Charles Baudelaire and Jean Cocteau and became fascinated with Paris, where he planned to travel after his graduation (he would eventually settle in the French capital in 1971, months before his death). Coats tailored like decadent 19th century dressing gowns and dark shades of burgundy, plum and grey reflected the mood.
Instead of going to Paris, following his graduation in the summer of 1965 Morrison moved to Venice Beach, where he lived in the rooftop of a building inhabited by one of his old classmates. During that period (referenced in Paul Smith’s show through black shirts printed with red palm-trees) he met Ray Manzarek, wrote most of the early Doors lyrics and fell in love with his long-term girlfriend Pamela Courson.
In the mid-sixties, LSD was The Doors’s drug of choice (and, although Morrison was not interested in meditation, the reminding members of the band were devoted fans of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi). In 1967, the lyrics of Light My Fire caused a national uproar when, on the Ed Sullivan show, Morrison sang the words “girl we couldn’t get much higher” after being asked to alter them. The Swinging Sixties were at their peak and Paul Smith’s dark tie-dye print (used in jogging trousers, shirts and T-shirts) perfectly captured the hedonistic spirit of the time.
Text by Marta Represa