It’s astonishing what the right designer can do for a house. One year ago, Celine was as stale as week-old bread. Now, in the hands of Phoebe Philo, it’s the touchstone for modern sportswear, the influence of her first collection, shown in October, already obvious on the runways of the past month. And if Philo’s second outing for Celine, shown Sunday, was any indication, that potent point of view is the new house standard.
Philo took the language she had established for spring — clean classics, to put it broadly, defined by square but slim tailoring — and built it out into an exceptional, new example of minimalism.
It’s probably not a complete coincidence that the Tennis Club de Paris was the chosen venue. It’s the space Helmut Lang used upon his return to Paris from New York. And while the two designers share an eye for clean, even plain shapes, unlike Lang, Philo’s take is grounded in bourgeois staples, beginning with the colors — navy, camel, ivory and mossy green — and subtle equestrian details. A beautiful navy sheepskin coat had leather trim and a starched ivory collar. Leather patch pockets recurred on wool tunic dresses and coats, and a simple midlength A-line skirt was worn with an ivory tie-neck blouse and a leather belt with a big silver buckle, one of the few accessories. And with everything unfettered, there was nothing to distract from Philo’s clear vision.
Much was culled from tony classics, for sure, but cut with an edge that was precise and light. For all the talk about futurism in fashion, this collection felt new — and now.