There was an overwhelming sense of freedom and exhilaration involved in Phoebe Philo’s Fall/Winter 2011 collection for Céline, which saw the female designer creatively exploring the unexpected theme of automobiles – more specifically, the interiors of cars, her love of driving and the enduring idea that "women in cars are very seductive.”
A pre-show teaser handed out to attendees granted a look inside Philo’s inspiration for the collection, containing images of women behind the wheels of luxury vehicles and other vintage cars. Discreetly woven within each look, the automobile theme was touched on through a multitude of the sophisticated and subtle design details for which Philo has become known.
Classic statement coats were the season’s featured outerwear, fasted together by an interior seatbelt-like strap, while slick vinyls and soft leathers were manipulated with unexpected ease, producing garments bearing striking similarity to the smooth curves present in leather-covered car interiors. Tailored pants accompanied by leather waistbands featured subtle racing-stripes down the leg, while sheer mock-necked tops utilized soft leather panels to simulate geometric shapes and cubist patterns.
Color was used sparingly throughout the collection, from deep, dusty reds and a bright orange wool coat, to mustard yellow, baby pink, and pops of blue. Color blocking was yet another featured technique of the season, suggested by subtle contrasts in fabrication, creating the illusion of three-quarter length sleeves and argyle-like motifs. The most unexpected segment of the show managed to also be the collection’s most unforgettable, a series of simple, wood grain printed looks, an illusion that invoked the feeling of a lacquered dashboard found in vintage car interiors.
Classic pointed leather loafers with delicate heels in a variety of neutral leathers gave a sense of uniformity to the collection, as did the simple white turtlenecks that were layered throughout. While accessories were sparse, Philo’s achievements in tailoring and delicate modes of fabrication spoke volumes.