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Armani Conquers China, Chastises the Pope June 01st, 2012 @ 11:53 AM



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Celine: Chic But No Cigar

Godfrey Deeny
October 05th, 2009 @ 2:45 PM - Paris

What’s the French for underwhelming?

In what was very much the most anticipated show of the season, the elite of the fashion media and all the executive barons of LVMH crowded into a disused bank headquarters in Paris Monday afternoon, Oct. 5, to witness the debut of Phoebe Philo at Celine, one of ten fashion houses controlled by the giant French luxury conglomerate.

In was already a major coup for LVMH to have hired
Philo. When Philo quit her previous position as Chloe’s creative director in 2005, she was widely regarded as one of the half-dozen most influential designers in fashion.

So, the air was thick with anticipation pre-show, heightened by a by the slow rhythmic beat of a bass every few seconds. This was later to speed up and be the soundtrack for the show, a looped remix of a classic house music cut.

However, what hit the runway in this Spring 2010 collection, while certainly abundant with poise and highly wearable, seemed a tad too downbeat.

Philo did tap into a certain idea of French chic for the professional woman, which Celine represents. It was instructive that when every Paris runway is crammed with cocktail party dresses, Philo showed a collection that would look elegant at work and ideal for a business lunch.

She revamped that French classic, the safari jacket, making it in green khaki and cutting it with a scalloped back. And one had to admire her padded leather dresses with jagged hems. But one had also to wonder, what were padded leather dresses doing in a summer collection? Moreover, the colors of the collection – khaki, black, sea blue and off-white looked autumnal, not summery at all.

Philo injected a lot of military details, like office loops and epaulettes. While they added structure, they seemed predictable.

Though Celine stands for a certain notion of haute bourgeois French chic, Philo remains based in London. It felt at times she was forcing herself to fit into a personality that was not quite her own. Whereas at Chloe, the Chloe girl was Philo herself.

Judging by the applause meter, this show was a success. Many stood up and clapped, though they were mostly fellow Britons, or executives in suits and ties. Nor was there a massive rush backstage.

However, the collection was certainly chic, and using a limited palette and relatively few materials Philo did come up with quite a few ideas, but very little fireworks. Philo also left a magazine containing reproductions of her own private collection of photography on each seat, a beautiful product, but oddly enough little of its eccentricity and curiosity made it into the collection.

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