What do women want? Posed to King Arthur, the question was a life or death riddle. The answer, one long in discovery, proved both simple and remarkably complex: sovereignty, to choose for ourselves.
Céline’s Phoebe Philo has always had the answer. Inherent therein, just as at the Arthurian Court, lies considerable magic, hers of a kind that refuses to subjugate pragmatism to needless stylistic flourish. Once again for spring, the results were compelling and high-chic.
Under a vibrant-hued, tented installation by Danish artist FOS, Philo showed a lineup of glorious, smart wardrobe choices. Backstage, she said she imagined the clothes as suitable to a year’s travel — different places, situations, moods. That meant plenty of choice yet delivered with her unmistakable stamp: the wide trousers, high-contrast buttons, a new take on lingerie. In the wake of rumors that have swirled about her possible departure from Céline, these resonated all the more strongly as newly indelible house codes (LVMH insiders pooh-poohed the rumors as false).
Philo takes a pragmatic approach to function while recognizing the emotional attachment we have to our clothes. She opened with lingerie, last season’s gentle dishabille replaced with a more precise take on sensual expression: lean, lace-trimmed slips and a camisole in combinations of black and white. But just as she introduced the lingerie motif she left it, returning only briefly with a very different take, inserting wide, ribbed corsetlike insets into coats.
The options kept coming, playing to different emotions. She went variously tender, long knit dresses tied in back with endless streamers; snappy, full-cut buffalo-plaid trousers paired to spare black tops, and modern romantic with chopped-off Juliet dresses over crisp pants. And for a soupçon of eccentricity — pristine white mink, worn backwards.
The shoes were sensible and also diverse, from flat, pointy mary janes to two-tone ankle boots. As for the bags, here, a big, soft, pillowed clutch, and there, a structured two-fer, small pouch attached to the main bag. What will women want? A simple answer, surely: to choose both. As for those competitors who find Philo’s work a font of inspiration: Ditto.