Phoebe English thinks pink

Before her A/W ’12 show, Phoebe English was a promising, award-winning Central Saint Martins graduate who produced striking, directional work.

After, it’s clear that English is also a canny designer with her sights set on career longevity and conceptual evolution.

For her third public show and her first solo outing, English showed a tightly edited collection that explored volume and movement. The first look made it clear that the hair dresses and static calicos of previous seasons were gone in favour of a more streamlined approach.

Black silk shirts and dresses with lacquered panels had ruched, bungee-style straps across bare backs. A series of latex dresses were tailored rather than gynecological, and gained volume from the felted wool crop tops and skirts layered over.


The star knit this time around was a nubby material made of hundreds of pairs of tights. More texture entered with basket-woven rubber pieces, like a darker version of the detail on Jason Wu’s standout camel coat. In places, the weave disintegrated into strands that looked salvaged—garb for a shipwrecked urbanite.

And then there was colour. The magentas and fuchsias we saw on English’s moodboard during a studio visit made it into the collection as bubblegum-pink ensembles that came as shots of visual caffeine after the all-black parade. Boiled-wool jumpers and skirts over dense curtains of latex fins could have seemed overly heavy, but instead felt light, without being overtly feminine.

‘The pink was a move to do something a bit more synthetic compared to last season,’ English told us backstage, visibly emotional. ‘I feel really good about it.’

She should. More than colour, though, the biggest takeaway may have been that English is serious about separates—something that Dover Street Market and future stockists will only appreciate.

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