Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Strong. Powerful. Reduced.

Phoebe Philo's back in town, and there has been much rejoicing. Back in the late 90's, when Stella McCartney was turning Chloé into the It Label for It Girls, Philo was her design assistant, and took over as artistic director when McCartney left in 2001 to start her namesake line. Chloé's success didn't slow down a tick after McCartney left -- as a matter of fact, things went so swimmingly that there were snarky rumors and snippy comments about whether the actual talent behind Chloé had always been Philo's after all. But both of these very nice English girls have only nice things to say about one another and McCartney's own line has been so hugely successful that any questions about her design talents (except for those based on personal taste, or, like some bloggers you know, a reluctance to buy plastic shoes that cost $800) have been pretty well laid to rest.

Philo rocked on at Chloé for five years or so and then she did that very modern yet very retro thing: she quit her job to spend more time with her family. Tears were shed, garments were rent, teeth were ground. Chloé ticked on with various designers, and Philo spent a few years romping about the English countryside with her toddlers.

LVMH hired her to reinvigorate Céline, a 70-year old French luxury brand, in 2008 and since then breath has been held while she cleaned house. The first collection she showed was Resort 2010, trotted out last June. Cue wild, thunderous applause. And all those little beeps & clicks you heard? That was the sound of thousands of iPhones & Blackberries in the hands of pretty much every fashion editor in the world calling the Céline offices and asking for samples to shoot. A new outbreak of Phoebemania has sprung up, and you are going to be seeing a LOT of these clothes in the coming months.

With good reason. They're fantastic.

For Fall 2010, Philo wanted to produce clothing that was "Strong. Powerful. Reduced."

Which she has done. The lines of these clothes, and of all the clothes she's been making, are so pared down and simple and neat.

However, with Céline, you know that "simple" doesn't mean what it does in some other contexts. Céline is a luxury house, it always has been. These are quietly elegant investment clothes that could linger usefully in your closet for 20 years or more, without being so predictable you feel like you're blending into the scenery.

The world is having a sportswear moment these days. It makes perfect sense to me. Times are still tough. It feels wrong to spend my fashion allowance on things that only have one purpose, like a cocktail dress or a pair of uber-trendy, collection-specific shoes. Personally right now I'm obsessed with finding good, multi-use tops; and the last three pairs of shoes I bought? One pair of rain boots and two pairs of penny loafers. Seriously. (Although I haven't gone completely utilitarian, mind you -- all three pairs are patent leather.)

It really is a thrill to see pieces like this on the runway.

Although, lest you forget, this is a French take on sportswear. For great American sportswear, see my old pal Michael Kors.

And good googly-moogly, the coats. The coats!!!

I love leather clothing, I freely admit. (No, not that kind of leather clothing!)

A patent leather skirt? Sign me up.

Yes, please.

These clothes please me deeply, and they're going to please a lot of grown-up ladies who are sick unto death of the tattered goth-glam rocker chick thing or the floaty rich hippie thing. I think over the next few seasons we're going to see a lot of classic clothing spun in interesting ways, and this is good news. I feel like I'll be getting a lot of bang for my fashion buck if I shop for things like this. I know myself well enough, though, to know that sticking strictly to this look is going to bore me pretty quickly, so I'm going to stay on the lookout for those small touches to add for pops of individuality & color -- these are the sorts of times when it becomes really important, style-wise, to know what your accessory sweet spot is, and to indulge it if you can. Never stop working on (and working) that collection of colored tights or statement necklaces or whatever your thing is, because those are the items that will personalize your wardrobe.

In the meantime, I'm going to keep a close eye on Phoebe Philo at Céline. It is no small trick to turn out good, reliable yet modern sportswear year after year; I think it's a much greater challenge for a designer than being able to just wipe the slate clean each season with a radical new silhouette or palette, like some of the more fashion-forward designers can. No one bats an eye if Nicolas Ghesquière does armored leggings one season and neoprene dresses the next, but the devotees of labels like Céline & Kors go to them because they know that there is damn well going to be a good pair of trousers there that they can wear for a hundred years. What makes them need a new pair of those trousers every season? Ah, well -- that's where the magic lies.

Images: Style.com

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Blech. The weather is... blech.

However. If you DO have to go out into the blech, wearing a pair of bright red patent rainboots (with tassels on the zips!) certainly helps your frame of mind. I heart Cole Haan, as has been well-established here.

Not exactly the same, but close enough:

Cole Haan Women's Air Lizzie Tall Waterproof Boot

(click for link)

Also available in purple! Or, if you're less adventurous in your foul-weather gear, black or gray. Trust me, they'll make it almost bearable.

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Monday, March 15, 2010

What I'm After

I'm suggestible. This is what I've been seeing and this is what I'm now wanting:

This is Celine S/S '10. Phoebe Philo is back in the design saddle, now at Celine, and she's working some serious magic over there. So far, she's shown two full and two mid-season collections. Everything has been extremely streamlined and modern and right up my alley, although I'd love a little more color, of course. People are responding to this more favorably than I expected when I first saw it. I wasn't sure at first if the hubbub was just because everyone was happy to see Phoebe Philo working again (she took several seasons off after her massively successful stint at Chloe to do the full-time mom thing), but the clothes are getting a lot of editorial coverage, so it's not just the cult of personality, I don't think. The clothes are really, really good, and deserve the coverage.

Of course, this collection just sends me -- it's exactly what I want to be wearing now, all neat & tailored and narrow and slick. I am feeling very UNflouncy these days. The thing that's specifically speaking to me is that damned leather t-shirt. I am now officially DYING for a leather t-shirt.

Ridiculously impractical, especially since I live where I do. (It was in the low 80's here yesterday -- we'll have a little chilly here & there over the next couple of weeks, but winter is effectively over for us until... a long time from now.) But I am completely smitten with the way that looks.

Here's a long-sleeved version from The Row, F/W '10. (Great collection, by the way. Say what you will about those Olsen girls, they make pretty terrific clothes.) It's slick, but I prefer the short-sleeved version. I also much prefer that beautiful camel-colored leather to the black -- it looks richer and less predictable.

Of course, I could probably make an exception for something black from Hermés...

Oh, that makes me want to cry a little. I so adore what Gaultier does for this house -- the man is a dab hand with leather. This is F/W '10 and the whole collection is extremely delicious, check it out.

I still prefer the warmer colors, though.

This is Philip Lim S/S '10. I posted about this collection when he showed it. I'm such a huge fan of his -- his clothes are just GOOD.

Besides the leather t-shirt, I could certainly go for one of these

Celine, again. So good.

So far, lots & lots of interweb searching is turning up a whole lotta Not Much, but I'm anticipating that by fall we'll be swimming in leather t-shirts. At least I hope so. Right now, the nearest I'm hitting it is this:

Dallin Chase Paisano Leather Tank

Dear Shopbop... Two words: New. Models.

This actually might be more useful, given the climate here, but I'm much less in love with it. Also, I think that color is actually more of that pinky-beige than full-on caramel, which is what I'm really after. Probably I need to spend the summer steeling myself for the disappointment of not being able to find this elusive, perfect, caramel-colored leather t-shirt of my dreams. Maybe if I save up I can afford the actual Celine one. Probably not. I'm rather fond of my kidneys. And keeping a roof over my head.

The other thing I'm really feeling lately is this silhouette in pants:

These are Philip Lim, too, also from S/S '10. I posted about these before -- I am just loving that pleated, slouchy pant with the pegged bottom. I don't know why, it's very mysterious. But look how wonderful in real life:

COLOR!!! Wonderful, wonderful COLOR!!

Love the sleeveless trench. And the brogues.

This makes me positively FAINT with desire. Oooooooooohh, that's good.

So that's going to be my next mission, I think, the perfect slouchy, pegged pants.

What are you on a mission for these days?

Photos: Style.com, Street Style Aesthetic, The Sartorialist, Garance Doré

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Big Squeeze

Quick! Those banded elastic BCBG "power skirts" (that's actually what they call them, which cracks me up) that I'm always raving about are on sale at Nordstrom.com

(Click for link.)

These things are crazy versatile, much easier to wear than you think, and make your ass look like a million bucks. Seriously:

My ass? Not really that good. It's all about the skirt.

I just bought a backup black one, because I've had this for about 6 months and I'll bet I wear it every other week. A fantastic garment, and I don't see them on sale very often. Go get one!

Photos: BCBG.com, Style Spy

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