“I’ve known and been a fan of R.E.M. for a long time,” said Paul Smith about his new partners. “I’ve always particularly enjoyed Michael’s haunting vocals.” Haunting is not a word you might usually apply to Smith’s signature exuberant style. And yet in this new collection, which launches on 10 November, there is a pared-down elegance that does justice to both innovators.
The album featuring hits such as “Drive”, “Man on the Moon” and “Everybody Hurts”, juxtaposes dark themes and vocals with often-jaunty guitar, a balance that is replicated in the collection. The limited edition products include scarves, canvas tote bags and graphic T-shirts. Smith’s simple bold colours are met with the equally direct lyrics from the album. “Moon”, “Kitten” and “Call me when you try to wake her” stream across T-shirts and tote bags, complicating the pastel tones.
Photo print graphics make use of the album artwork, a moody concrete star-like object, along with promotional photos taken by the Dutch photographer Anton Corbijn. The characteristic monochrome images lend a sophisticated grace to the delicately woven scarves and silk pocket squares, bringing the past into the present.
On the collaboration, lead singer of R.E.M. Michael Stipe explains: “We’re thrilled to work with Paul Smith, Anton Corbijn’s photos, and my lyrics from Automatic for the People to create something very 2017.” And the collection certainly does feel contemporary, becoming a testament to the durability of lucid and deeply felt art.
The Paul Smith & R.E.M. collaboration will be available to purchase from key Paul Smith shops including London, New York, Paris and online at paulsmith.com.