Dispatches from Paris: Céline & Chloé

Céline’s FASHION versus Chloé’s clothes

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By: Rebecca Lowthorpe Follow @Rebecca_ELLE

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1. Celine 2. Chloe 3. Chloe

Some of the big trends of autumn/winter 2014 are as follows: uber coats, menswear for women, texture, off-colours, zingy brights, military details, pattern, stone embellishment, clumpy shoes, fur, sportswear, all-over knitwear, calf-length skirts.

How is it that Phoebe Philo delivers all of the above – everything we’ve been watching pound up and down the catwalks for almost a month now – and makes it look new? Not just new, completely fresh.

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This is what we have come to expect of Philo’s Céline, a bold step forward every season, making you yearn for clothes you never thought you’d want. How does she do it? Rigorous focus, sure, but it’s her taste that we’re all so in love with. Her taste in just the right shapes, just the right wool yarn, the right colours, the right clumpy wedge shoe, the right saddle-stitched bag, the right buttons, the right long dangly earring. It’s all so very now. So spot on. ‘I guess they’re very personal,’ she said backstage of the making of her collections, ‘and it’s a real pleasure to keep on working more into it, going deeper into the fabrics and the silhouette and the woman, it’s such a privilege to be able to express how one feels through clothes.’ She must be feeling pretty brilliant, because this was another standout show. Of the 42 exits, over half were coats – a sign of their hot selling status, despite their mighty price tag? The first were strictly tailored in black with white buttons that punctuated their sculpted fit, and fine fronds of loose thread that, blink and you missed them, fluttered out of arm seams. She also provided slouchy cashmere coats, the type you’d pull on like a cosy oversized cardie, speckled textured wools, leopard spots (but in her hands, desirable), and finally coats sprouting loose threads like fur (much lovelier than they sound). Also in the mix, the new flare – there was a 1970s vibe with those big skirts slit to the thigh, and skinny elongated sweaters over lean knitted kick-flare trousers. Also those sludge colours and bright orange fur muffs hailed from that same era. Not that Philo will ever be pinned down to anything as mundane as a literal reference. When asked to describe her collection, she put it thus: ‘Tender, crafted, nurtured, tailored, strict. And very much from my heart.’

Left to right: Céline, Chloé, Céline

Another designer who crafts from the heart is Clare Waight Keller over at Chloé. The difference is that Waight Keller doesn’t come across as a designer who wants to lead fashion. Instead, she is all about the clothes her customer wants to wear and that customer is a very different breed to that of Céline’s. Where Céline is all about FASHION, Chloé is all about clothes.

For this reason, Chloé can seem less dynamic on the runway; you have to adjust your eye and remember that not every woman in the whole wide world wants to wear strict tailoring and bright orange fur muffs. The Chloé woman likes soft, flowing, free clothes against her skin, like the pale pink double-faced cashmere coat (buttonless) or the coat made from downy marabou feathers. She likes pretty clothes like the cream silk dress cut in floaty layers, or the lingerie slip skirts, or a diaphanous dress in a charming print. She wants her leather pillowy and padded and her texture super-soft. It’s during the evening that the Chloé woman is a fashion adventuress, her black dress embellished with geometric gold. Claire Waight Keller delivered all of the above. And with the understanding that above all, easy clothes are what the Chloé woman loves.

See the full Céline collection

See the full Chloé collection

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