Paris Fashion Week: Phoebe Philo’s faultless Celine
Having once again confirmed her status as industry leader, Phoebe Philo stood backstage, swamped by fans. She wore a slouchy navy cashmere sweater, a pair of non-descript black trousers and New Balance trainers. Like Miuccia Prada, every thread Philo wears and every word she utters seems utterly significant.
Asked if she had a few words to say about her collection, she said, ‘instinct and desire’. This made sense. Her instinct for what women want to wear is like a heat seeking missile; our desire for everything she touches simply grows with every passing season.
It is rare to witness a faultless collection; usually there is something that doesn’t sit right, or didn’t quite work. Not here. Here, you could see the reality in every outfit. She said she saw it as getting ‘back to basics’. In other words, the fundamentals of her design DNA: simple, clean, strong shapes but with a softness that she had begun to develop last season.
She opened with pale silhouettes that softly skimmed the body. Her new skirt shape, repeated in cream, powdery apricot, white, black, grey and navy, hugged the hips before gently flaring to just below the knee. These were worn with a variety of plain, sleeved tops, a funnel neck here, a ribbed sweater there. On the feet, plain high-heeled shin-length boots in just the right off-shades - grey, putty, mustard, green, navy - were worn with the longer length skirts; anything above the knee, such as the little grey dress whose sleeves hugged the shoulders and tied at the front, were treated to the new seamless thigh-high stocking-boot, made from the finest leather. As for the new Celine bags: some flat envelopes, others shaped like sand bags, the fabric and colour matching whatever outfit they were put with.
Just as you began to think ‘OK, all this simplicity is absolutely dreamy and beautiful, but…’ Philo switched gear, upping the luxury ante with richly-hued mohair coats, two precise fur pieces – one skirt, one dress – before giving us colour in the form of checks reminiscent of laundrette bags. Although, clearly, no checked launderette back ever looked this good.
Backstage, Philo was asked how she felt about everyone copying her; there really isn’t a designer in recent history whose ideas have been so widely and blatantly copied on the high street or catwalk. She simply said: ‘It’s completely flattering.’ But don’t expect a high-street collaboration anytime soon. ‘I don’t have time, but I would if I could.’