After redefining the way women dress, Phoebe Philo — CELINE designer and purveyor of the new minimalism that has taken catwalks and Main Street by storm — is aiming to take the values of the luxury industry in a new direction.

Many of the supple silks and cotton fabrics that made up her clean lined Spring/Summer 2011 ready to wear collection Sunday were sourced from small mills in Japan and elsewhere that craft material by hand the old way.

She acknowledged that working with such small providers can prove more complicated than going through the large scale European mills that luxury labels like CELINE would normally use, but said: “If you want it, anything is possible.”

“It’s slower because of the distance, but I just thought it was really important we stepped out of the European industrialized universe…(to get) back to basics,” Ms. Philo told The Associated Press in a backstage interview.

Her third collection for CELINE since returning to fashion after a years long hiatus continued in the minimalist vein that has become her trademark, but it’s softened with some ethnic touches.

GIVENCHY delved into the dark side with a highly dramatic collection, while JOHN GALLIANO continued to churn out the elaborate looks that are unmistakably his.

Mr. Galliano’s show was staged in a gilded Paris theatre. Being in the audience there was like watching a lush and elaborate pantomime with the world’s biggest costume budget.

Emerging young French talent ALEXIS MABILLE sent out a collection of tan and grey sundresses with full skirted shapes that seemed to be surfing on the MAD MEN craze. Ms. Mabille’s signature touch – extravagant bows – lent the dresses an extra dose of polished sixties era femininity.

Still, perhaps because it stuck so close to the white and neutral palette favoured by Paris designers this season, the collection blended with dozens of others that fashion insiders have sat through over the past five days.

After a long day’s worth of shows, much of the fashion crowd hit Italian label FENDI’S party, where legendary eighties band DURAN DURAN was scheduled to play a set.

On Monday, the City Of Light’s nine day long ready to wear marathon moves into day seven with one of the week’s big question marks, British designer Giles Deacon’s debut collection storied but floundering house EMANUEL UNGARO. Mr. Deacon is the latest in a long series of designers to try to reverse UNGARO’S fortunes.


CELINE designer Phoebe Philo won a cult following during her time at the label’s crosstown rival CHLOE. Her return to fashion touched off the new minimalist movement that’s swept catwalks world wide and spawned countless imitations.

With Sunday’s collection, the British born designer continued to refine her pared down esthetic, sending out square shaped blouses in leather and low slung, wide legged trousers.

Ms. Philo said the collection was her way of stepping back from the industrialized urban fray.

“There was an idea of travel, nothing specific about a country or a place, but a feeling of getting away from urban and getting back to a kind of artisan’s way of working,” she commented, adding that many of the fabrics were sourced from small producers in Japan and elsewhere.

While white — the shade of choice across Paris’ catwalks — and other neutrals dominated Ms. Philo’s palette, there were also touches of bold colour, like a sapphire blouse paired with a leather wrap skirt in rich bordeaux or shirts in fluttering silk that the designer said drew its inspiration from scarves.

It was another strong collection from a craftsperson who has established herself as a fashion force to be reckoned with. No doubt we’ll be seeing more variations on the theme on other catwalks and on the high street.


Riccardo Tisci is back in touch with his Id.

After taking a foray into exoticism — with collections influenced by the traditional garb of the Arab world — he has reconnected with his darker side, sending out a leather strap bound collection for next summer.

There were backless vests in leopard embossed jacquard fastened around the neck and across the back with stud encrusted straps in black leather. The vests were paired with abbreviated skirts layered under long, featherlight skirts in translucent silk. Zippers with sharp metal teeth often replaced seams, adorning the hem and sleeve lines or forming shiny crosses across the backs of the jackets.

“It was like spiritual desolation with a chance of redemption,” said David Mignon, a Paris based photographer and painter.

“Just a sliver of a chance of redemption.”

That seemed an accurate assessment: Riccardo Tisci, an Italian whose Catholic roots run deep, has often acknowledged the role religion plays in his work and there was something about the contrast between the looks’ hardcore leather and the gauzy cocoon of silk that suggested a soul in spiritual torment.

Mr. Tisci’s dark but beautiful esthetic has won him a cult following not only among the legions of hip young women who covet his collections, but also among his peers. Designers Alexander Wang and Pucci’s Peter Dundas were on hand for Sunday’s show — as was singer COURTNEY LOVE.

Asked whether the collection’s S&M vibe appealed to her, COURTNEY said: “I didn’t see it like that at all. To me it was just really beautiful. Maybe I’ve been in rock & roll too long.”


The inspiration behind the collection might have been a complicated one — according to the notes, it was something about a real life con artist from the 1920s who scammed scores of legendary painters — but the clothes looked more or less the same as usual.

Which, when your name is JOHN GALLIANO, is not necessarily a bad thing.

The English designer sent out fetching variations on his hallmark baroque, layered silhouette: Cropped trench coats cinched tight at the waist were worn over billowy harem pants in Japanese prints or multitiered chiffon skirts.

The models were all styled differently — in an apparent nod to the chameleonic appearance of the show’s inspiration, con artist Maria Lani, who, again according to the collection notes, “convinced over 50 leading artists of the day (including Matisse, Chagall and de Chirico) to paint her portrait” before fleeing Europe with the artwork.

Held in Paris’ gilded Opera Comique, the show had even more theatrical flair than usual, with models striking exaggerated poses as they slowly meandered the mirrored catwalk.

Like other Paris shows that have cast novelty models to walk with the usual pack of size zero teens, Galliano had one older woman: a beautiful blonde.

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