#SuzyPFW: Céline Offers Respite to Women’s Closets – and Lives
Quilts of many colours covered the benches at the Céline show, offering physical – and maybe mental – respite as the Spring/Summer 2018 fashion season draws to its end after four solid weeks.
“Comfort, warmth, tender, softness,” said designer Phoebe Philo backstage about her motivations as she received congratulations for a show that was as gentle on women as the sleeping-bag cushions were to our backsides.
To say that a show is flawless is a big statement. Yet it would be hard to fault a single outfit in a collection that was unique among this season’s hundreds of shows – not least because Phoebe thought about spring clothes. For that increasingly ignored season, there was the designer’s particular kind of soft tailoring, enhanced by colour – a pink jacket and primrose pleated skirt, or bolder reds and greens.
The designer’s skill is not just in the tenderness with which she treats her subject, but the way she does it by celebrating the imperfect. Modern women’s lives are crazy busy – chaotic even. So why not take the tailored clothes that were just-so on the mythical Parisian women of past generations, and deliberately mess them up, just a little?
So a sleeveless jacket was worn slightly askew and a pleated skirt deliberately wonky, so that one side flowed downwards. The result was an entire wardrobe of day clothes, but without the prim correctness that suggests. A particular trope was to apply what might have tied together a jacket tucked into a belt – in contrast to a perfectly tailored coat with a belt formally fastened around the waist.
The kind of freedom Phoebe offers her clients included giant bags, fit to carry the kids’ sports kit, tonight’s supper, a pair of sneakers and digital devices. The designer truly understands modern lives – but also the need to escape the drudgery with some whimsy.
The fluffy feather shoes that she launched previously had an unexpected worldwide success. Maybe the flats with a trail of leather strings on the uppers or feathers sprouting on an egg-yolk yellow coat will catch the same spirit of intentional disarray.
With so much aggression attached to the subject of female empowerment, this designer’s way of expressing it through clothes has a feminine sensibility – except for a print of Ancient Greek figures that looked like The Rape of the Sabine Women. Maybe the Phoebe Philo message is tougher than it seems.