Indeed, you could be forgiven for thinking that the first decade of the new century has been one of seismic and challenging events: the shadow of terrorism, the bursting of the Internet bubble, a world at war and a global economic crisis the like of which we have not seen before.
And yet in spite of this, perhaps because of it, a new generation of young people is defining its identity through a positive attitude. Environmentally conscious, creative, connected through new technology, ready to consume things outside the mainstream, this is a generation that sees change as an opportunity, not as a threat.
Spirit of the times
Arguably the last time a generation was faced with such a paradoxical outlook was in the Sixties, the decade of pop art and flower power as well as the Cuban Missile Crisis and Vietnam. In the crucible of that turbulent time was forged a spirit of hope and creativity. Paul Smith remembers it well as a period when long-established barriers broke down and self-expression became the order of the day.
"It was a moment when everything shifted, a moment when young people realised they could be heard as individuals," he says.
Today things are less radical, but no less exciting. The potential of new technology to bring people together is being explored daily through social networking, the backlash against corporate marketing means that young people want things that are individual and full of character, and the realisation that it's a rough old world out there means that we have to be willing to do something about it and savour the pleasures we are lucky enough to enjoy.
In other words, it's time to enjoy life, seek new experiences and be part of a community. It's time to embrace youthful enthusiasm and fun. It's time to recapture a childlike, playful attitude to life. It's time to be optimistic.
Paul Smith has no time for doom and gloom. His unusual – almost childlike – way of looking at things has seen him championed as the British designer who constantly surprises, constantly evolves. He delights in colour and in the unexpected. In design terms, his collections are playful and joyous, full of energy and life. They make you smile. They are never short on optimism.
It was this quality that Paul Smith wished to capture with his new scents: Paul Smith Optimistic.
"I wanted to create a fragrance that bottled the spirit of optimism – that captured the youthful enthusiasm and energy I see around me every day. It's about time that someone made a positive statement," he says.
Paul Smith Optimistic for Her
A feminine fragrance that combines floral tenderness with a fruity top note. It is fun and yet familiar as well – exciting and yet somehow comforting, playful, yet decidedly feminine.
The ingredients are simple and youthful, designed to evoke a feeling of joyful pleasure and elegance.
Top notes – A colourful fragrance: Optimistic for Her is inspired by pink shades and fuses pink berries, pink grapefruit, juicy litchi and elegant sweet peas.
Heart notes – An upbeat fragrance: Optimistic for Her features energetic mandarin freshness twisted with the vitamin kick of cranberry and the soft but vibrant raspberry "macaroon" accord.
Dry down notes – An idiosyncratic fragrance: Optimistic for Her is unusual and full of character with its touch of orris and incorporation of distinctive patchouli.
Paul Smith Optimistic for Him
A masculine fragrance that combines an outdoorsy freshness with a sensuality that appeals to girls. Essentially it is a classic male fragrance in the Fougère ("fern-like") family of scents, underpinned by a happy, seductive quality.
As with the women's fragrance, the ingredients are simple and youthful, but here they are designed to evoke a feeling of fun, pleasure and seductiveness.
Top notes – An upbeat fragrance: Optimistic for Him has a vigorous and joyful impact with sparkling citrus and mysterious and exotic pepper and cardamom.
Heart notes – A fresh fragrance: Optimistic for Him gives an impression of virile marine freshness through its sage and geranium notes.
Dry down notes – A sensual fragrance: Optimistic for Him has a bottom that is warm, woody and seductive, with cedar, vetiver and amber.
Paul Smith is famous worldwide for his use of multicoloured stripes. He is also credited with putting a British "twist" on his designs.
Therefore, for Paul Smith Optimistic, he commissioned the design studio of Alan Aboud to create a twisted and lively pattern of stripes.
The result is a graphic image of brightly coloured pink and blue stripes that swirl like tickertape and literally wrap around both the fragrance boxes and bottles.
Paul Smith Optimistic for Women has a cylindrical, feminine bottle featuring pink stripes, filled with a light pink fragrance.
Paul Smith Optimistic for Men has a masculine, rectangular bottle with rounded edges, featuring blue stripes, filled with a blue fragrance.
Both bottles are decorated with a metallic ring – in shiny silver for the women's fragrance and in shiny gunmetal for the men's – engraved with the "OPTIMISTIC" logo. Both have caps to match.
The advertising imagery shows a group of young adults caught in a moment of intensely joyful togetherness. The people shot are all friends in real life, which gives the images an authentic look – they are clearly relaxed in each other's company and having fun.
The images express the happy, upbeat and celebratory spirit of the new fragrances, and depict groups of friends to underline the importance of community and social interaction as defining characteristics of today's younger generation.
Available exclusively from Boot's from 7th April 2011 and nationwide from 5th May 2011.
Eau de Toilette 100ml : £55.00/€69.00
Eau de Toilette 50ml : £38.00/€49.00
Eau de Toilette 30ml : £28.00/€35.00
Eau de Toilette 100ml : £49.00/€62.00
Eau de Toilette 50ml : £34.00/€44.00
Eau de Toilette 30ml : £25.00/€31.00