Dispatches from Paris: Céline & Chloé

Rebecca Lowthorpe reports

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GIF: Céline, Chloé, s/s 2015 - Getty

Simple black was disrupted below the knee with long, full fringing that tossed and flicked as the model walked. Click-clack went her shoes – a ballerina pump on wooden block heels. That was the first outfit – part dressage horse, part immaculately clipped poodle with something of the flamenco dancer about it. These were the random and obviously inaccurate thoughts that passed through my head while watching the Céline show – Phoebe Philo would never dream of being influenced by a poodle.
 
But it demonstrates why her collections for Céline are so vital to the fashion insider on the show circuit, running from show to show like a hamster on a wheel. It’s the masterful balance of unpredictability and unfaltering consistency; the way she tells it with absolute authority and clarity; her ability to make us want it right now – it’s hard not to clock up the outfits you could picture yourself wearing. Then there’s the sheer volume of designers blatantly referencing what she does (if only I had a pound for every time I’ve heard, ‘That was so Céline’), which makes her one of the most influential designers of our time.  
 
What you can’t see in the pictures, is how it all moved. That was the big new thing: freedom. Aside from the fringing, full flared trousers swished, wide ribbons flew off the seams of neat shifts and long dresses rippled in waves. And there was print! (Has there ever been a Philo-Céline floral?) Red roses, dense bunches of daisies and pale Chinese blooms were all present, mixed together! This was a departure for Philo – now feeling free to loosen up her hitherto forensic show edit? That said, there was the inimitable structure too, like the coats baring big pockets with brass D rings – a detail echoed in the ergonomic leather bags, like tortoise shells that curved over hips. Needless to say, there was much for the copyists to get their teeth into.

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IMAGE: Céline, Chloé, s/s 2015 - Getty
 
The same could be said of Chloé, with its designer Clare Waight Keller serving up her best collection to date. That’s a phrase easily trotted out in fashion and rarely meant. But this was genuinely pitch-perfect for both the Chloé woman (a romantic, with a love of pretty, easy clothes) and the fashion editors in search of looks that will translate into amazing pictures. She called it Modern Folklore and it was indeed a fresh take on pristine white tablecloth lace and gauzy volume – two big trends, ticked off. Add to that denim, which we’ve seen everywhere – Chloé’s in deep indigo, a big shirt and loose jeans with a ribbed waistband, or crisp shorts with big patch pockets, induced a personal shopping list. As did the long dresses suspended from camisole straps and worn with finely laced gladiator sandals.
 
It was the mix of pretty and utility that made this collection feel stronger and more believable than in previous seasons, where dreamy femininity has often taken over. Or perhaps it’s just that dreamy femininity is what this season is all about and our eyes have readjusted? If the latter is true, then this collection deserves a 10 out of 10 for making any impression at all, let alone such a lovely one.

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