"I really don't like to name-drop", Sir Paul Smith said while he checked his phone to find his show's track list. It was hard not to catch an eyeful of his inbox as he did it. And what do you know : his latest e-mail was from Gary Oldman. "Don't write that, or I'll come around your house !"... Despite himself (and tellingly, because of) this was a collection that demanded its designer indulge in a spot of name-dropping. There were 32 looks in all, and while there were certainly motifs that ran irregularly through them -such as gingham, extreme volume, extreme tightness, ants, pulsating color, and, of course, tailoring- this was a collection whose chief theme was the lack of one. Unless you count looking pretty damned fly. At first it seemed that this might be an entirely musically focused collection that instead of majoring on one genre of frontman élan was a kind of menswear Traveling Wilburys. Because surely there was some Talking Heads, some Led Zep, some David Bowie (two iterations), and some Jagger there too ? The soundtrack, a tightly packed terrine of tunes (25 of them) that ranged from Bow Wow Wow to the White Stripes, only helped to emphasize this impression. Backstage Sir Paul Smith conceded that the blue bell-bottoms were rather similar to some 36cm-wide strides he'd once made for Ziggy, and that there was a bit of Jimmy Page too (who when PS made pants for him had a 24in waist). But any similarity to characters iconic in the fields of music, art, or acting was -while not strictly coincidental- merely a by-product of Paul Smith's focus on presenting a panorama of diversely expressive individual menswear looks. Although yes, there was a lot of David Hockney (now 79 years old) in the color palette of turquoise and coral. "He is a customer and a friend", the 70-year-old designer said. "My wife, Pauline, was with him at the Royal College, and at his graduation he wore a gold lamé jacket and dyed his hair blond -so he is another independent mind". Notable fabrications included linens layered with Lurex on jackets and smocks, a metallic-weave jacket or two, wide-weave polo shirts, and polka-dot-dyed suiting. There were ants on those pants because they represented a hive mentality that Paul Smith said he was engaged in rejecting : "it's just about being your own character". As well as being an in-your-face history lesson for all those designers who reference musical history that they've only ever seen on YouTube, this was indeed a fat mixtape of characterful and individual pieces, but perhaps not a very covetable collection.