(images via wwd)
for some reason i’ve not yet fully grasped, the three young female designers (oh! goodness! they’re all younger women, so they must all therefore be the same!) of paris fashion week, claire waight keller of chloé, stella mccartney, and phoebe philo of céline are all grouped inextricably together as a unit, and if they all have their own interesting/unique perspectives and strengths, all the same, if put into a judging contest, i have to say, for the a/w 2013 season, i’d hands-down hand the hat off to ms. waight keller. and that isn’t a judgment on the other two collections–i found them both quite amazing in their own respects–but more of a commendation on chloé’s part, having offered up such an effortessly pretty, cheerful, and wearable show.
no, really, i do know why all of the women are counted together, as they’ve all held the chloé creative director’s chair at some point, with ms. waight keller having only recently received the crown passed from hannah macgibbon, one of ms. philo’s proteges (and ms. philo was, in her turn, a protege of ms. mccarrtney; see how this work?). and if the former cds had both bestowed upon the house a sense of flirtatious girlishness (see ms. philo’s s/s 2005 chloé range), than ms. macgibbon had probably paralleled it (see a/w 2010, resort 2011, a/w 2011) a bit close for comfort with the later thirties demographic all of these women now are (and subsequently designing for).
anyway, in her few seasons at the helm (see s/s 2012, a/w 2012, s/s 2013), i personally believe ms. waight keller has done a remarkable job in rejuvenating the label, bestowing upon it much of that sweetness and prettiness i’d missed, and yet never without incorporating the kind of sophisticated and classical elements that would keep her slightly older fans interested as well. the order of the day was little schoolgirl frocks and jumpers, worn with menswear–influenced oxfords and smart little swingy trenches, but a lot of the youth came in the styling, and many of these pieces had a classical flair that could work for varying sorts.
so. for the critical portion of our hour, we heard the fashion spot briefly offering that the “collection appropriately enough featured minimalist cape coats, knee-length dresses, pinafores, semi-structured bags with long straps, white blouses, fitted blazers and gold accented outerwear. Among the standouts were coats and vests with large gold snaps and zippers, oversized capes and sheer dotted tops and skirts, all of which made for easy-to-wear looks that will appeal to a wide age demographic.”
then, fashionologie chimed in that “the lineup offered plenty of Chloé classics in updated shapes: wool pinafore dresses with utilitarian details, capes and coats with large gold snaps and trapeze backs, a plethora of straight-cut dresses with long sleeves, and pants with elastic bottoms or high waists and superwide legs. Fits were slim through the shoulders, and some nipped loosely at the natural waist, but otherwise these shapes fell generously around the body and over the legs; the result was a much more flattering take on this season’s big volume trend.”
“The coat,” prattled us vogue, “could be a black felted wool duffle, a bright blue doubleface zippered wool cape, or a pearl gray wild and woolly shearling, all with a shrug-it-on and slouch-it-off oversize shape. (Incidentally, in a quick hand-held weigh-in of Waight Keller’s fabrics, I am pleased to report that they are far lighter than they look, which is only a good thing, particularly in this heavier-than-heavy season.) The skirt—A-line, to the knee—might come in blue tweed with a weighty gleaming zipper running up the side, or a black-and-brown soft-as-down fur.”
meanwhile, the washington post reported that “(t)here were some neat ideas in blue and neutral black, white and gray. A multicolored thick-striped silk dress had a geeky, graphic look with an angular top and patent leather school shoes. Elsewhere, a gray jumpsuit, played on the shape of overalls, with long straps and deep scooped collars. Buttoned-up white shirts, followed tulle transparencies with polka dots, and coats sported large pockets. ‘It’s about bringing in a toughness, with more attitude,’ said Waight Keller, backstage.”
and style sang out that “(t)he tough and the elegant came together in harnessed pinafores and capes with metal detailing; in the strategic use of leather, particularly in the gray leather jogging bottoms; and in the boyish boilersuiting. It culminated with an overtop and overdress both made by a chain-link fence manufacturer. These garments were given a luxe spin by having paste jewels embedded in them. It was a collection that was playful in a British-playground sense and precise à la Parisienne. It moved the ‘state of mind’ of the Chloé label in a new direction and proved that girlish does not have to be girly.”
elsewhere, we heard fab sugar detailing how “Clare Waight Keller showed a lineup of softly romantic clothes with a sharp tailoring edge, which is precisely what cool girls around the world want from Chloé. The house’s famed bags took on a softer feel with slouchy dual-handle duffels and slim shoulder bags, while every look came out with solid-heeled oxfords. The outerwear was a highlight, with narrow-shoulder coats and wearable capes popped over white blouses and A-line skirts.”
“Clare Waight Keller has a good sense of how to navigate the material. She framed her fall collection with the idea of ‘that transition from when you’re young to being a woman,’ she said backstage,” explained wwd. “Show notes went on to suggest a collegiate attitude, naming ‘bare legs, dorm rooms, bike sheds, flirting,’ but the clothes were adult-driven. Waight Keller kept a school-days spirit about the lineup, showing pinafore dresses with straps that mimicked backpacks and a plethora of great capes in an inky shade of blue, yet the sharp minimalist cuts tailored the look for a mature, stylish audience.”
then, now fashion relayed how “(t)hat ‘girl against the world’ situation doesn’t go away once those school years are have faded into the distance. Women still need staples that they can pull out of the closet at a moment’s notice that they can count on – their own version of that by gone uniform. This season Waight Keller gave women more than a few options found that sweet spot between childlike charm and chic…Childhood favorites that made it onto the Chloe catwalk included fluid evening overalls, pinafore dresses (sometimes with a ruffle embellishment), sweet polka dot tops and those modern day school classics sweatshirt tops and jogging pant- but cut in with graphic textural motif for the former and supple blue leather for the latter.”
“There were great coats – boasting duffle and military details – and they came worn with satchels for further boyish charm,” trilled uk vogue. “Or there were capes or oversized navy blazer coats with plunging lapels. It was a little more grown-up and there was something a little back-to-school about it, commercial and instantly wearable pieces that are sure to be a hit. This time it just perhaps missed some of that girly charm that we loved it for and there wasn’t as much flirting as we would have liked.”
then–finally–we heard the telegraph weigh in that “(c)ute cloaks in pressed wool, in grey or those rich blues of the designer’s schooldays, were customised by golden zippers and gleaming gold studs. A fantastic tweed skirt with a dangerous zipper from knee to thigh was half Miss Marple, half Miss Whiplash. The school references were not too clunkily literal – an oversized, blue on cream striped V-neck with shortened arms was only John Lewisy if you wanted it to be, and furry gilets never featured at any school I know – but provided a solid foundation for a collection that played confidently on Chloé’s key central tenet of airy effervescent girliness. Near the end, two dresses made of golden, jewel-dotted chain-link fence both referenced the playground and moved far beyond it.”
(view the full catwalk show video here)