Paris Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2015: Phoebe Philo channels Marie Antoinette as Paris reigns supreme

Shoes oscillated between middling height and  dead flat, which matched the mood of the show

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Marie Antoinette, the ill-fated last queen of France, once declared that she wanted to be the most fashionable woman in the world.

The world is a much wider place in 2014 than it was in 1789, when cherie Marie was carted off to the Conciergerie and uncertain doom. But, with the latest round of spring/summer 2015 shows, Paris is asserting its reign across the world of la mode.

Nobody – and nowhere, it seems – does it better.

Why? Because Paris is bubbling with ideas. Some we’ll want to wear – like much of Phoebe Philo’s spring Céline collection, with its ruffled and printed pastoralism and fringy-frayed craftiness. Others, we won’t, at least not so readily.

Rei Kawakubo’s formidable Comme des Garcons show, inspired by “blood and roses” and transforming her models into perambulating contemporary art installations drenched in single shades of riding-hood red, was aggressively, anarchically unwearable.


And who knows what will end up in shops from Jean Paul Gaultier’s show on Saturday night, his last ever ready-to-wear collection after 39 years in the game? It was a great show – staged as a beauty pageant, of mostly greatest hits. Both were bold statements. The clothes didn’t really matter.

The clothes matter, enormously, at Céline. Last year the brand made record sales and while its owner Bernard Arnault’s LVMH conglomerate does not release information on their labels’ individual returns, the performance was described by the group as “remarkable”.

That’s based on Phoebe Philo’s knack of nailing what women want to wear.

It’s legendary: her latest successor at Chloe, Clare Waight Keller, is still somewhat in the shadows of Philo’s phenomenal success story.

The floaty georgette dresses, blouses and denim shorts were neat, but felt a little like left-overs from Philo’s glory years. Shoes oscillated between middling height and dead flat, which matched the mood of the show overall.

Philo is a tough act to follow – even when she’s following herself. That’s because she’s lead the march into uncharted territories – her spring/summer 2010 Céline debut, for instance, which ignited a Minimalist revival in fashion.

Her spring offering was somewhat quieter, less bold and a little less fulfilling.

Oddly, Marie Antoinette was who I thought about when the Céline models trod out in dropped flounces splurged with florals, fluttering lappets of fabric and tattered hems.

Those have been seen just about everywhere: Celine took it a bit further, looping thread into a mammoth woolly fringe along the hems of skirts and slender tops.

They reminded me of la reine and her cohorts playing at milkmaids in her ferme ornée. There were even a few cowbells clanging from bags, and string belts.

It chimed with the folksy, Seventies feel that has been emerging across the season as a whole – swaying fraying and billowy florals underlined by flared trousers and tugged-waist jackets stiffly outlined with topstitching.

Philo placed her own slant on it, sure. But rather than defining, this was a refining collection, underlining stories other designers had already begun to tell.

From a queen of fashion, you hoped for more leadership.