The perfect runway edit, razor sharp and distilled to one or two carefully curated ideas — Phoebe Philo has had enough of it. For spring she took a more relaxed approach. “I really just allowed it to be,” she said. Her laid-back attitude, rather than the look of the collection itself, was inspired by Kate Bush, whose T-shirt the designer wore backstage. A BBC documentary piqued Philo’s interest over the summer, so she started reading up on the singer and went to her concert several weeks ago. “She just feels like somebody who knows who she is,” Philo explained. “I felt very inspired by her.”
That inspiration translated, albeit obliquely, into a collection that was actually a series of disparate proposals — linked only in their creator’s adherence to a take on chic steeped in practicality. The sharpness of tailored looks was tempered by the wide volume on the pants; the no-nonsense attitude belied by bold topstitching and big pockets in contrasting colors. Dresses and tunics that would otherwise have been stark had loose panels flapping at their sides or a lattice grid of airy strip appliqués in front secured with buttons. Florals looked gentle, a little retro and a bit random — one bold and bright, another soft as a whisper on a beige ground that could have been pulled out of granny’s attic. For Philo, that was the point. “The idea was kind of vintage — borrowed, given….I wanted lots of touches of things that felt like things you’d collect yourself. Individual.”
Her best idea was using thick, fringed sweater knits unexpectedly; it looked great and cried to be developed. Instead, Philo opened the show with a skirt, followed up with a two-dress teaser and then dropped it entirely.
On one level, her multiple-suggestion approach made a great deal of sense; the hyper-styled, one-note show has become something of a performance piece and seldom gives a full picture of the upcoming season at retail. But point of view matters. This collection seemed to lack Philo’s typical conviction — except when it came to accessories.
Her circular ergonomic (clasp next to the hip, please) handbags were powerful. Her ballet flats and ballet not-flats (on oh-so-sensible heels) will delight the Céline customer, while her stark-white pendants and brooches injected a shot of surrealist whimsy.