What do you see in the course of a day? A year? Think of the chance encounters, many walks of life, and sliding-door moments that add up to the human experience. The runway of the everyday is what has interested Phoebe Philo lately. She explored it brilliantly last season, staging a show of looks for many different women with the pacing of strangers passing on the street. For fall, she seemed to magnify those ideas.
The models walked seemingly at random, taking meandering laps around the runway, while the audience watched on bleachers that slowly rotated, completing one full 360-degree turn just as the show ended. It was intentionally disorienting, leaving you wondering if you would get to see everything — you did, several times, from all different angles, though you never got a good look at any one thing for long. The as-the-world-turns message was strong, though it didn’t necessarily enhance the collection, which was good, great even, if not one of Philo’s groundbreakers.
Confident, distinctive women walked with purpose, coming and going, purportedly from different circumstances but sharing a taste for classic luxury that has been advanced and individualized with a quirky cut, proportion, color or print. There was a sense of cosmopolitan practicality and versatility. Maybe the girl in the brown trench, crinkled as if it had been folded in a suitcase and worn with a leather hood tied around the neck, pants and galoshlike pointy leather boots, was anticipating a change in weather. The woman in the black-and-blond fur coat over a casual navy V-neck sweater, aqua blue T-shirt and pants that zipped down over white heels, carrying a large, plain black canvas tote, like a reusable shopping bag, could have been trying to look like she wasn’t trying to look chic at the grocery store. A model — in a modernist Josephine dress, draped and gathered at the hem over lace tights and gold shoes — might have been headed to date night. Those carrying big fluffy blankets with their tuxedo tailoring and exotic prints, suggested travel, as did the model in a lightweight white trench done in a map print.
Where were they and Philo going? We can’t say for sure. Philo preferred to remain a passing acquaintance on this one. Journalists were told they could go backstage “to say hello,” but not pose questions about the collection. So we moved on.