Céline Fall 2013: Phoebe Philo Emotionally Engages Audiences With A Soft, Sculptural Collection [PHOTOS]

By John D. Ersing March 3, 2013 10:54 PM EST
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For Fall 2013, Céline's Phoebe Philo continues to cement herself as the label's rightful creative director. Philo may be British, but since Bernard Arnault appointed her head of the the French house in September 2008, she has shown she can design in two languages.

Philo - who is known for giving women "a grown-up and hip way to put themselves together" - is impressively humble. "I just thought I'd clean it up," she told Vogue. "Make it strong and powerful -- a kind of contemporary minimalism."

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And that it was. Sculptural, artistic but never eccentric.

No frills or fuss was the overarching concept at Céline Fall 2013. Philo is used to pared-down silhouettes with an unexpected striking feature. A prime example is her recent outerwear (the blue coat Grace Coddington wore on the cover of "i-D" was structured and simple, but in a shocking primary blue).

For Fall 2013, Céline under Philo continued to demonstrate exactly why staying inside the lines can be just as dynamic as stepping outside the box. We saw more of the light pastel colors at Céline that we have seen woven through the rest of the Fall 2013 fashion month at shows like Carven. Again, we saw that opposites attract with airy colors superimposed on regimented fabrics.

Regimented doesn't mean restricitve for Philo, though. For as much structure as a pale pink blouse had with straight-edged short sleeves, the tulip-hemmed skirt had room to breathe. Dresses had faux sleeves wrapped around them as if a coat were tied at the waist. At times the faux sleeves looked like blankets; at other times they looked like wrapping paper.

The statement felt a bit like a straightjacket. But the absence of a stark white in favor of a buttery yellow warmed up the not-so-romantic notion.

Plainspoken clothing was anything but simple. Design elements came out in unexpected ways. Dropped lapels, one-button coats, and cutaway capes provided plenty to capture (and retain) the audience's attention. Cigarette pants under detailed jackets crafted a linear silhouette.

"It was coming from a place of emotion and intimacy, something instinctive," said Philo. "There was softness and desire, to create something emotionally engaged." The organic, structured but still somehow soft-feeling collection was paired perfectly in the color palette with peach, pink and ivory. The black looks were even interesting, a testament to Philo's never-before-seen construction acting as an eye-catcher even in the most austere monochrome.

Perhaps the most outstanding element was the red, blue and white tabletop check. For Fall 2013, it came out splattered on boxy turtleneck blouses and one-button coats. All of a sudden, we were dreaming of a picnic on the Seine.

One stand-out piece, a heather-gray dress that almost looked blue had the wraparound sleeves, was paired with thigh-high rubber boots for a sleek, futuristic look that was more organic than robotic. There were more conservative looks, too: the flirty skirts that flared over the knees, A-line shift-dresses and loose geometric shapes offered plenty by way of a working wardrobe.

When Philo was appointed at Celine, Pierre-Yves Roussel, chief executive officer of LVMH's fashion division, said: "By giving Philo Céline, we're giving her a platform to express her vision." And that's exactly what she did in Paris on Sunday.


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