Phoebe Philo makes Paris comeback at Celine

(AFP) -

Phoebe Philo was welcomed back like a prodigal daughter on Monday when she unveiled her debut collection for the luxury label Celine in a packed venue near the Ritz in Paris.

The British designer who took the fashion world by surprise when she resigned the top job at Chloe to devote herself to motherhood, does not seem to have lost the sure touch which earned her plaudits there.

For next spring-summer she presented clean and unfussy lines using lots of glove-smooth leather in black, ochre and tan for body-hugging short sleeved tops, worn over fluid, wide pants in honey and flesh tones, simple shifts and A-line skirts.

It was classic and classy, but with quirky twists which took the collection to a whole new level: like the dippy double peplum on the back of a khaki sports jacket, the unexpected epaulettes on a black cocktail frock, exaggerated pussycat bows on blouses, outsize sleeveless dresses that could not decide whether they were trying to be trench coats or safari jackets, and leather spencers which barely skimmed the bosom.

Philo's erstwhile boss at Chloe before she left to create her own label, Stella McCartney, presented her collection earlier Monday, which of course did not include any leather as it is against her vegetarian principles.

It was her characteristic blend of sharp masculine tailoring with femininity, featuring jackets without lapels in crisp shantung over high-waisted wrap trousers alongside wisteria print sundresses and denim skirts with strappy low wedgies inspired by her late mother Linda.

Her dad, Sir Paul, applauded from the front row along with actresses Charlotte Rampling and Gwyneth Paltrow.

"I try to give a woman some sort of elegance, energy, make her feel like she is in control of her wardrobe," she told AFP after the show. "It's not about aggression or power. It's about being positive, being a real woman -- my kind of woman, anyway."

Marcel Marongiu at Guy Laroche imagined a woman lost in the desert for his spring-summer collection in which the models had to negotiate a runway covered in sand in their toeless high-heeled ankle boots.

Perhaps the poor girl borrowed her boyfriend's biker jacket with studs and zips to turn into a makeshift leather skirt, with the sleeves knotted at the waist.

The look was sexy, even raunchy, while remaining practical and wearable, and did not resort to baring lingerie as seen all over the catwalks here this week.

There was an elegant nonchalance about his chiffony dresses ruched around a central seam in an abstract print of grey and sand, oatmeal loose weave linen separates, grey lurex sweaters and even second-skin black lycra dresses with metallic appliques cut away to reveal a bare midriff or back.

Leonard's founder Daniel Tribouillard found a new source of inspiration for the house's famous prints: the fine traditional Imari porcelain of Japan's second city Kyoto, which mingles cobalt, indigo and navy blues with brilliant white.

"It's part of my own collection which I have been bringing back for years," says Tribouillard, emphasising that the designs were quite different from the Chinese porcelain which he has often incorporated into his floral prints.

He said the print was "quieter" than usual, for women who want to wear something luxurious but with discretion in these financially-straitened times.

Designer Veronique Leroy turned the patterned silks and jerseys into floaty maxi scarf dresses, short sundresses and wide-legged jumpsuits, shown on fresh-faced models with loose, long hair.



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