Smith stays in fashion by creating an antique mood

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The Independent Online

The young talent is still here, but so are many more "trends", not least on Paul Smith's catwalk yesterday. Smith took one major spring/summer 2006 trend, for lingerie and nightwear-inspired pieces, added a few more "key" looks, such as tailored shorts cut to mid-thigh and empire-line dresses, and finished off with a handful of references to his own menswear roots.

His best designs were influenced by his own back catalogue, not the trend forecasters. His square-cut, striped shorts, worn with a blazer in this show, felt like a nod to his first taste of mainstream success back in the 1980s when he introduced boxer shorts to men who had only ever worn Y-fronts. Smith's bib-front blouses, cut to cling at the waist, also acknowledged his reputation for shirting. A cinched waist, incidentally, is another safe bet for spring/summer 2006.

However, it was the girlie boudoir look that dominated his catwalk: lace-trimmed camisoles in scarlet, pistachio or dusky pink, white nightgown-style dresses decorated with a meandering ribbon print and even French knickers. And backstage after his show, held at the Royal Horticultural Halls in west London, Smith was in touch with his feminine side. "I already do three lines for women that offer shirting, and this is the top line, so I wanted it to be different, more feminine," he said, going on to add that he had aimed for an "antique but not retro" mood.

More in keeping with British fashion's traditional idiosyncrasy, and all the better for it, was a show yesterday by the young designer Peter Jensen, which was inspired by the actress Sissy Spacek. His models, made over as all-American girls with painted freckles and their hair looped into plaits, wore fitted, youthful tailoring such as a pinafore dress in dark-blue denim, or high-waisted blue-and-white striped slim trousers. A white point d'esprit prom dress with spaghetti straps was just one of many pretty pieces that demonstrated how this designer's talent is maturing.

Fellow young designer Emma Cook also showed a confident and original collection yesterday, where jacquard knits and intricate prints of mermaids and insects played a central role.

After a great London show like this, next summer's trend for mid-thigh shorts - an unlikely sell-out garment, anyway - seems entirely banal.