Uptight but sweet: influential Philo gives Céline a softer side



However much she might wish to avoid the spotlight, the pressure was on Phoebe Philo, the creative director of Céline, who showed her fifth collection for that label in Paris yesterday.

This is the stealth-wealth tag to see and be seen in, loved equally by women with money to spend on their clothes, but who would rather not wear their privilege on their sleeve, and by the fashion insider.

It is Philo, people say, who is single-handedly responsible for the rebirth of minimalism – her no frills debut collection for Céline, shown in October 2009, was massively influential. There is much more to her than that, though, and, for 2012, she demonstrated her talent more fully.

The strict, covered-up aesthetic that Philo has made her own at Céline was softened by veils of black chiffon at the front of crisp white trousers or a panelled white dress. Shirts were buttoned up to the point of uptight, but romantic, sunray pleats sweetened them from behind. There were shades of Yves Saint Laurent's safari collection to coat dresses in white, racing green and merlot, cinched with wide belts in a nod to Parisian chic. A nod to that great couturier's iconic Le Smoking was here seen in a black, crepe trouser suit, the wide-legged, cropped trousers of which had a broad panel of more chiffon at the hem.

If the holy grail of fashion is to move cut and proportion forward, transforming the appearance of the body inside it, then this was a brilliantly discreet example of just that. Pleated knee-length skirts or ankle-length trousers that kicked slightly from the knee were belted low on the hip and worn with narrow-shouldered jackets which were, conversely, high-waisted – almost empire line. This all-new silhouette will make fashion ripples for seasons to come.

Céline was in the doldrums when Philo arrived to catapult this very different brand to must-have status, despite the fact that the clothing she was proposing was a million miles away from the trend-driven whimsy seen elsewhere. In a rare interview, Philo told The Independent: "What I love is this idea of a wardrobe, the idea that we're establishing certain signatures and updating them... the world doesn't need many more frivolous bits and bobs that end up left in cupboards."

With this in mind, she already has two classic Céline bags to her name – the "luggage" and the "cabas". The sleeveless tunic, the white shirt and a fine pair of trousers is reinvented each season. Finding the balance between moving fashion forward and creating sophisticated clothing that stands the test of time is no mean feat and Philo, increasingly, is proving to be a master of that.

Christophe Lemaire unveiled his second collection for Hermès. This time austerity and refinement were the story. Next summer, the Hermès woman will travel in ivory, linen kaftans and jackets. Should she be feeling sunny she might slip into a silk tunic in a bright riff on Hermès orange. She will wear her finest caramel leather coat over her shoulders over a liquid silk skirt and shirt. The question is whether anyone will invest in these clothes. And the answer is a resounding yes. Hermès' fortunes continue to flourish.

One can only sympathise with Bill Gaytten, who took his bows for the second time this season following the showing of the John Galliano signature line. Gaytten has formally taken over the designer's eponymous collection, while at Christian Dior – which took place last Friday – he is overseeing the studio temporarily while a successor is found.

If the Dior collection made a certain amount of sense, John Galliano, into which the disgraced couturier poured so much care, looked quite sad. The spirit and unbridled romance that was at the heart of the label was notable for its absence.

Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

    £28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

    Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

    £16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

    Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

    £16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

    Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

    £17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

    Day In a Page

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk