Chloé has just opened the doors to its retrospective exhibition and interestingly, its two of its past creative directors that are responsible for spearheading the new practical and realistic approach to dressing that others are only just clocking on to. Earlier on this week Phoebe Philo showed a collection that would stand any woman in good stead no matter what scenario came her way and the same was true of Stella McCartney with her S/S13 collection.
Stella always does the masculine/feminine aesthetic to perfection but this season, more so than ever, she captured the need for freedom, something Raf Simons stressed at Dior too. Far from being restrictive, the loose silhouette, which dominated throughout, looked comfortable but polished. Trousers had a slouch and easy relaxed fit without looking too undone. Jackets were sporty and modern teamed with sheer insets and overlays, which were also incorporated along the hemlines of block coloured dresses in both orange and a rich green. As far as tailoring goes, the proportions were oversized and jackets were cut away from the body, something she toyed with last season after a few collections of body conscious silhouettes.
We all missed Céline on the runway last season. As Phoebe Philo was heavily pregnant at the time expecting her third child, the brand opted for an intimate presentation rather than a runway show and the move actually supported Philo's appeal. The move showed that she embodies the women that she designs for. These are women that have busy lifestyles and have to juggle that with a busy family life too and this is something that was apparent in her latest collection.
Trousers came in a relaxed cropped style that are perfect for running around in and the more tailored but loose fit long styles that she showed were not restrictive and instead, would stand any woman in good stead for a busy day. The same is true of the draped silk tops and dresses that would, without doubt, allow you to move from a heavy day in the office to an evening 'do with ease. And that's Philo's charm. She understands what women need and it's perhaps this reason that she seemed so relaxed this season, compared to other designers who were clearly affected by the pressure posed by Hedi Slimane and Raf Simons' respective debuts.
This relaxed confidence was apparent in the silhouettes, which were a signficiant departure from Philo's former penchant for structure. Even calf skimming dresses came with frayed hemlines and if that isn't a sign of a more relaxed Philo, I'm not sure what is. The colour palette was still very much her though and didn't steer too far from black, white and navy, with the odd flash of a subtle gold thrown in for good measure.
Their designs may appeal to a younger customer compared to other luxury brands but Chloé is by no means a young brand. This year sees the french company mark their 60th anniversary and as you would expect, they have a lot in store to mark the occasion.
On September 28 the brand will take over the art space at Palais de Tokyo in Paris to unveil an exhibition curated by Judith Clark to 'translate the unique spirit of the brand', Chloé's chief executive officer Geoffroy de la Bourdonnaye told WWD. Rather than being a retrospective like Louis Vuitton's recent exhibition in the Louvre, this one will be more of a 'collage of ideas', Claire Waight Keller explained, and will feature pieces created by former creative directors like KarlLagerfeld, Stella McCartney and Phoebe Philo.
With the news of Raf Simons' appointment at Dior well and true out and confirmed, the question as The Cut posed is how much Simons knew over these past few months.
It was only in March when the news of his departure (or being forced out as Cathy Horyn put it) from Jil Sander was confirmed that Simons' name was really thrown into the hat of potential candidates to take the reigns at the house so it begs the question; was it only at this stage that the negotiations with Dior began? That conclusion would seem to make sense when you look back at the sequence of events last month. Back in March reports claimed that Simons' had a clash with Dior CEO Sidney Toledano over money yet only a few weeks after the negotiations began the brand announced that the creative director had been secured with an announcement said to come soon. Clearly the negotiations were not as frosty then as the reports had us believe.
According to The Cut, LVMH bosses were concerned about having to compete against Yves Saint Laurent after it was confirmed that Hedi Slimane would replace Stefano Pilati so brought Simons on board to make sure they had a well-celebrated and modern designer on board too. The decision definitely makes sense. Along with Phoebe Philo's work at Celine, Simons is amongst the designers pushing the modern minimalist aesthetic forward, which is something that Slimane has always championed so with all three designers at the helm of such big brands, the competition truly begins.
We're not even half way through 2012 and the year has already proved a big one for Stella McCartney. Already this year she has celebrated turning 40 years-old, although you would never guess from seeing her in the flesh, and it also marks the 10th anniversary of her label. Not bad for a designer who was initially snubbed by the fashion industry and publicly criticised by Karl Lagerfeld after she was announced as his successor at Chloé back in 1997. 'I think they should have taken a big fashion name,' he said at the time. 'They did, but in music, not fashion.'
Despite the initial criticism, McCartney couldn't be doing any better right now. According to the most recent reports, profits at her brand are up by 4.4% and her freestanding stores internationally now tally up at around 24 including her amazing new Brompton Cross space which houses all of her lines including her much loved kidswear collection - and that's not all. Back in 2010 she was announced as the first fashion designer charged with creating the Olympics kit for the British team.
Phoebe Philo's success at Céline extends far beyond the clothes. In a recent feature in the Times, Benjamin Seidler explained Philo's allure. Not only does she create clothes that real women want to wear but she is also an embodiment of the women she designs for. Take for example her decision not to show a runway show this season due to being heavily pregnant. While many were critical of the decision, it has actually made her fans relate to her even more.
'I'm seduced by the sense of it being the vision of a strong woman who has created a fashion moment, who wonderfully negotiated working from London because that’s where her family is and who has decided not to do a runway show this season because of her pregnancy,' Agata Belcen, fashion editor at Another Magazine, said. Katie Bain, shoe manager a the British Fashion Council, agrees: 'Phoebe Philo at Céline creates a collection each season that is about building a wardrobe rather than focusing on throwaway trends. I think, as a working woman (and mum), she really has that ability to resonate with what women want to wear.'
Before you panic, all is well. The fall collection is being worked on as planned but the brand have decided to cancel their upcoming show as creative director Phoebe Philo is eight months pregnant with her third child.
According to WWD, press and buyers will still be able to view the collection but in an intimate presentation rather than in a full-blown show format. Exactly how the presentation will be conducted is yet to be confirmed. The only downside of the change is that if you thought Celine shows were already notoriously difficult to get an invite to, the small nature of the presentation means that it just got that little bit harder.
Although the speculations about who will take over at Dior has quietened down over the last few months, an imminent appointment is still on the mind of LVMH bosses. Despite Marc Jacobs being tipped as the man to take the role, recent reports allege that negotiation talks have slowed down in recent weeks.
Jacobs reportedly made it clear that if he were to move to the house he would come with his whole design team at Louis Vuitton. Naturally this causes problems and to make matters worse, Phoebe Philo - who was tipped to move to Vuitton from Celine - has confirmed that she has no intentions of leaving Celine.
Since arriving at Celine two years ago, Phoebe Philo's work at Celine has become the benchmark. Her minimalist aesthetic has 'inspired' a legion of other designers - Kanye West included - and the brand's signature bag has quickly become the most sported accessory at the shows for the last few seasons. So with a successful two years behind her, Philo could easily continue to churn out the clean-lined pieces that her loyal customer base love, but instead she introduced some new elements for S/S12.
This season was all about playing with proportions, she explained. This translated clearly on fifties silhouettes that reminded me of what we saw at Miu Miu last season. Tops, coats and cropped double pocketed jackets all came with pronounced rounded shoulders and big sleeves and tops often came in peplum shapes, while jackets and skirts were teamed with huge waist belts. Skirts all touched on the 1940s, particularly on a two-tone emerald green and white over the knee length version. While the fabrics on white dresses, wide legged trousers and tops were lightweight, the outerwear and the series of leather dresses and tops felt too heavy for spring.
Just as the who-will-replace-Galliano-at-Dior speculation finally began to die down, latest rumours have already talking again. The latest name to be thrown into the hat? Marc Jacobs, it seems. This week WWD confirmed that Jacobs' contract at Louis Vuitton is coming to an end and he's allegedly been in "serious" talks with LVMH bosses about jumping ship leaving Phoebe Philo to reportedly take his place at Vuitton.
Although Alber Elbaz, Sarah Burton and Nicholas Ghesquière have confirmed that they're not leaving their jobs, Haider Ackermann and Riccardo Tisci are still in the list of potential replacements. Bill Gaytten - Galliano's former right hand mind - is said to still be in the running for the big job after making it very clear at the brand's couture show that he's gunning for the role. That said, the collection received terrible reviews making his appointment extremely unlikely.