When Phoebe Philo took over the helm at Céline in 2008, the image of the Céline woman would be immortalized into the fashion world’s collective conscious. Classic and powerful, put together without being flashy, professional and clean-cut; Céline’s clothing became an attitude, a secret language among modern women that existed only under the female gaze. Philo’s Céline let the woman in the clothes shine through with masterful staples like wide-legged trousers and tuxedo jackets that celebrated simplicity and skilled tailoring over fussy details. Spring of 2013 introduced a collection that, while staying attuned to the spirit of the house under Philo, introduced a new layer of calculated mess: a chicly disheveled Céline woman.
True to Céline, the Spring 2013 collection — set to “Useless” by Depeche Mode — sticks to calculated neutrals: black, white, off-white, lilac, and pink. Where the collection diverts is in the fit: slouchy satin trousers that hang off the hips and wrinkle slightly at the ankle pair with slightly oversized vests and plunging camisoles. Satin slips that are as Céline as they come are modified by unkempt detailing: unfinished loose threads and fraying hems. Fabric twists seem to be a thread that runs through the collection, present around the collar of blouses, at the waist of trousers, and tied over the shoulders like preppy sweaters. The motif of this twist is a microcosm of the entire collection: subtle, calculated mess.
The twists carry over into accessories in the models’ knotted bracelets. Other notable accessories are the slouchy roll-top clutches in pops of color and the wide array of witty footwear. In keeping with the collection’s more relaxed attitude, footwear goes the extra mile with fuzzy slip-on soles in vibrant colors and fuzzy heels that echo the work of Meret Oppenheim. Perhaps the stand out piece amongst the feast of show-stealing footwear are the cheeky nude pumps with painted-on toes and bright red toenails. Perhaps taking a hint from Elsa Schiaparelli, Philo’s choice to include these pieces among her collection speak to her vision of the Céline woman. She’s professional, sure, but she also has an understanding of the avant-garde; a sense of humor about her.
Overall, the mood at Céline was loose, disheveled elegance. There’s a clear nod to the work of the Antwerp 6 (plus Martin Margiela) in the collection’s deconstructed and distressed detailing. Still, it stays true to Phoebe Philo’s Céline spirit that has been absent in recent months.