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.

newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Life and Style
Scientist have developed a test which predicts whether you'll live for another ten years
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
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: Telesales & Customer Service Executive - Call Centre Jobs

    £7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

    Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

    Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Lancashire - £30,000

    £28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...

    Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Developer

    £26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn