Ready To Wear: Paris should applaud Philo, Céline's gentle revolutionary
If the spring/summer haute-couture collections featured more than their fair share of princess dresses and overblown ball gowns, the presentation of Phoebe Philo's autumn pre-collection for Céline, in the label's showroom, was the antithesis.
Here a woman of style – and means – will find the finest oversized trousers that show her to be fashion-knowledgeable but never arm candy. Or she might like to slip into a roomy cashmere knit with accompanying scarf. It would be tempting simply to live in a garment such as this one and have done with everything else in a winter wardrobe. Then, of course, there are the accessories – the cabas, the luggage, the box bag. Such is the demand for at least some of these that customers are allowed to buy only one of each and this despite the fact that they too are supremely understated.
Philo is a gentle revolutionary and highly respected for that. When news broke that Céline would not be staging a catwalk show during next month's Paris ready-to-wear, the designer was moving the goalposts once more. The reason behind this decision – and it's unprecedented, given that the event is one of the high points of the season – is that she is heavily pregnant with her third child. "A runway show is a very demanding and personal engagement for a creative director," Marco Gobbetti, CEO at LVMH-owned Céline said. "The objective is to simplify."
It's an unusually civilised and human mindset on the part of the designer and the executives that support her. The catwalk show is the most important marketing tool in fashion and the pressure Philo and her contemporaries are under is huge.
Having said that, there are too many of them and, like parties, only few live up to the hype. The powers that be at Céline are still promising a full collection and a style of presentation that will fulfil the needs of buyers and press. Here's betting that in so doing they will be adding another quietly radical string to their bow.
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