Patriotism is the first major similarity. Where as Paul Smith is generally seen to be a patriotic designer, always nodding towards Mini Coopers, Union Jacks or that classic and unbeatable stamp of Britishness – just beautiful plain boring. Desigual’s patriotism is borderline autocratic, a bit of a Franco fruitcake. They’re probably only two collections away from giving out omelette and jugs of sangria in their foyer. Desigual make Zara and Mango look like Anglophiles at the height of fashion treachery. The main tie, however, between Paul and Des is the loud shirt. The classic Paul Smith shirt with its loud reiterative patterns, and probably some distant homage being paid to Laura Ashley or perhaps the later paintings of Bridget Riley.
Fine art has always been the henchman of high fashion. Last year we saw obvious examples in Nike’s exclusive Mondrian trainers, McQueen’s obsession with Georgia O’Keefe’s skeletal fixation, and of course Harvey Nichol’s Andy Warhol t-shirt range. Desigual’s current Autumn/Winter collection practically plagiarises the Russian artist and thinker Wassily Kandinsky, as illustrated here on The Jack of Hearts. We have a shirt which at once embodies the legacy of Smith, the painting of Kandinsky and the alleged vibrancy of
Who’d have thought
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