Stella McCartney kicked off proceedings at the Paris collections yesterday with a show that appeared to reference childhood memories of her mother's wardrobe with easy denim separates, fine-gauge knitwear and relaxed tailoring in summery shades straight out of the 1970s.
With her father Sir Paul front row, not far from the diminutive entertainer Prince, and a perky candy-coloured backdrop by the New York-based artist Trey Speegle, McCartney's offerings were (whisper it) more than a little reminiscent of Abigail's Party or perhaps the Seventies sitcom The Good Life. Pinafores and kaftans, wisteria-print sun dresses and more with buttons down the back brought to mind Felicity Kendall in battered basics and Penelope Keith swathed in acres of floating fabric. Footwear – low, cork, wedge-heeled sandals – only served to drive this particular message home. Remember those?
More youthful in flavour but still retro, and perhaps with a rather more racy daughter in mind, were tiny hot-pants in shantung silk, worn with spike heels.
While in general the collection was just as easy on the eye – and indeed the womanly form – as one might expect of this designer, the exception that proved the rule was a sequence of ultra-short frilled, pleated dresses in hotter hues that bounced about models' bodies as they were walked. These were designed to set the flashbulbs popping, and that they did, but it was difficult to imagine any woman, whatever her age or body shape, wearing them away from the catwalk.
Later, Phoebe Philo, who worked as McCartney's design assistant at Chloe, showed her first collection for Celine. Philo took over from her friend at Chloe in 2001 when McCartney started up her own label. She remained creative director of Chloe for five years, introducing an ultra-feminine aesthetic to the brand that fused its French heritage with a more street-inspired London edge. Philo was the brains behind money-spinning accessories such as the Paddington bag, elevated wooden-heeled sandals and a fossilised butterfly pendant, all beloved of young girls with fashion credentials.
She left Chloe in 2006 citing a desire to spend more time with her family. Then two years later, Bernard Arnault, the CEO of luxury good conglomerate LVMH, which owns Celine, announced that Philo was returning to revitalise the label.
If Philo's debut offering for the brand was anything to go by, she may well do just that. Celine is renowned for a more rigorous and urban aesthetic with the emphasis firmly on understated luxury.
With this firmly in mind, the designer sent out moulded leather shift dresses in discreet olive green, putty and black. Wide-legged, high-waisted trousers and fluid, knee-length jersey skirts were as chic, worn with fine bodies in subtle shades. Finally, cotton drill safari jackets and khaki tunics laced up to the throat were perfect weekend-wear for the monied Celine customer, who likes to look crisp, but when off-duty prefers not to wear her wealth on her sleeve.