paris fashion week: céline

(images via vogue)

so i know i probably shouldn’t, but then, i really just need to say it quickly, and then we’ll move on; remember how back during the nina ricci show cathy horyn slammed designer peter copping for not including more models of colour amongst the cast? well, i know that phoebe philo’s céline is the epitome of class and style for most fashion kids out there, but seriously, when confronted with the label’s a/w 2013 collection at paris fashion week, i kind of sat there gaping at the whitewash. true, there were a few non-white girls, but not bloody many. and this is one of those houses that people proclaim to be, like, the future of everything fashion.

ah, well. but perhaps we should now simply move on to the clothes. i think i’ve told you aplenty before that while i was the hardest core of the hardcore phoebe fans back during her chloé days, chez céline i’ve been a little more sketchy (see a/w 2010, s/s 2011, a/w 2011, resort 2012, s/s 2012, a/w 2012, s/s 2013, pre-fall 2013). however, i really have nothing (or mostly nothing, anyway) but praise for the current collection, which harnessed a kind of old world sophistication i wasn’t aware the designer had in her, in so many of her days as either ‘eternal cool girl’ or ‘sharp minimalist-cum-artiste’.

yet here i was wondering if homegirl is angling for some job (that perhaps we know not yet will be opening?) at some storied, fanciful label (i’m not aware of any prospectives chez lvmh, but there are other houses, non?), thanks to an aesthetic that was more rooted in vintage flair (a lot of looks had a definite forties, and i’d argue–whatever you may want to shoot me and declare her utterly an original–christian dior flavour about them), but i liked these languid swoops of line, and the oversized, enveloping coats, even as (okay, minor critique here) i wondered why several girls, including bette franke, were wrapped into what looked to be cast-off discount shopping bags (yannow, those loose-weave plaid ones) fashioned together to make giant coats/dresses/etc.

alas (and i think we really need to steady ourselves for the onslaught), are you ready to hear what the critics have to say? hold your breath, then, because here we go: according to grazia, “(u)p close the cocooning coats, funnel necked tunics and A-line skirts split up one side to the thigh were clearly far from cheap and cheerful. Instead they were doubtless made of the most expensive weave money can buy. This was a beautiful show, inspired, if the picture books left on seats were anything to go by, by Flemish Old Master portraiture and lightly cloudy blue skies. The colours were some of the most delicate of the season – cream, ivory, rose, primrose yellow and army green…sleeves were wrapped and loosely knotted around slender torsos: a soft and very human touch.”

meanwhile, the daily beast reported that “the inspiration behind the brand’s fall 2013 collection came from ‘instinct and design.’ She explained: ‘I used instinct to create pieces which were emotionally engaging.’..A cream skirt ensemble with a wrap-around top—which looked as if the waistband of a Kimono had been wrapped around its torso and folded over at the collar, revealing a bold silver necklace—set the mood for the show. Then came a cream coat with wide lapels (one of a number of roomy coat designs) that stretched down to the fingers to elongate the arms. A series of skirt looks followed, each tracing the straight line of the models’ thighs and then branching out into a swirl of material around the knees.”

then, we heard from us vogue that “(i)n what was certainly one of the most desirable collections of the season, Philo moved away from the now-iconic linear Céline aesthetic (which continues to influence countless less imaginative international runways) and into clothing with a gentle swing of movement or great, rounded volume. The show opened with a series of ‘fit-and-flare’ dresses in ivory or blush pink double-face wool and cashmeres that made that seventies working-woman silhouette something essentially contemporary, luxurious—and suddenly covetable, a testament to Philo’s design authority at the house. The edge was amped up with the thick-heeled, above-the-ankle boots these dresses were shown with.”

and wwd announced that “(t)he looks were as unfettered as a dropped lapel, one-button coat over a collarless dress and a boxy, wide-sleeve tunic with a skirt. Philo seldom broke the plane of visual calm by mixing colors (save ivory and white or soothing tiers: a butter-yellow cutaway cape over sweater and skirt in two shades of gray. That is, until she upped the pep factor with competing tablecloth plaids — bright blue over red — for a top and skirt. Yet for all the glorious serenity, her cuts were not all as simple as they appeared; the horizontal seams of two A-line shifts opened into huge pockets, and some sleeveless looks had big faux sleeve appendages that knotted in front. It all looked chic, beautiful and effortless to wear (though certainly not to create), a perfect continuance of Philo’s woman-to-woman dialogue.”

“Now, having gone through her somewhat louche period, it appears as if the Céline woman may be settling down,” style declared. “For one, she isn’t wearing furry slippers anymore. Yet she hasn’t entirely abandoned the idea of domesticity and warmth. If anything, Philo has increased the quotient this season in her collection. Yet the designer has also melded a mood of stripped-down, put-together elegance, something of the old Céline woman combined with the new,” as the la times prattled that this was “(a) romantic turn for Philo’s minimal chic, but done with such conviction, it was impossible not to be seduced.”

elsewhere, we heard from elle that “(a)sked 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.”

“It was insanely elegant and very clever,” shrieked uk vogue, “the designer showing her extreme diversity and with it, that whatever she does she does with focus, the taste level always remaining so high – even when it is a woven bag you’d use to go to the laundrette now reinvented as a high-neck and loose jumper, coat and fluted knee-length skirt. But it’s her focus that enables such magic to happen – a concise underpinning aesthetic that reins all these things back into being Celine. Even jewellery – usually the fashion purist’s no-go – featured here with little silver bands to define cuffs at wrists and little be-baubled chokers worn two at a time at the neck.”

and the nyt‘s cathy horyn nodded that “(a)t Céline, Phoebe Philo also made a powerful statement with skirts. Shown with oversize sweaters in cream-to-pink tones, or a lanky version of a Mary Poppins jacket, the flirty skirts made a great silhouette. And, surprisingly, they were knits — extremely compacted silk, rayon or wool bouclé and without waistbands or fasteners. Ms. Philo’s clothes may be eminently beautiful, but they also have slob appeal (at least for unreformed slobs).”

and, enfin, there was the telegraph, offering that “(i)nevitably the catwalk expression of this low fuss approach is exaggerated to the point of austerity. There is nothing haphazard about the way those fish-tailed, mid-length skirts and their matching tunic tops, in various shades of clotted cream or midnight blue had been ‘thrown’ together. Philo has extremely refined taste. She’s also a perfectionist. This collection reflected both traits, without looking uptight, so much so that the following items will now set the fashion agenda for the next few seasons: grey felt-wool, A-line tunic dresses with tie-draping (a technique she has so emphatically mastered that it’s only when it appears elsewhere, ineptly imitated, that you realise how difficult it must be), impeccably cut pale pink wool, flared coats with giant collars and half belts, clutches, with cut out wrist-holes and block heeled pale grey ankle boots.”

(watch the show video here)

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