In one way, this has been a season about a top and a bottom, and a great coat. Alexander Wang made that point at Balenciaga. But it took Phoebe Philo to turn basics into high fashion.
Within moments of the start of her Celine show on Sunday, she had bleary-eyed editors and other guests — including Stella Tennant and Amanda Harlech, who works with Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel — salivating for a sweater and a skirt.

Paris Fashion Week 2013 - Celine
Paris Fashion Week 2013.

Backstage after a hit Paris fashion week catwalk show Phoebe Philo, the British designer of Celine, was asked how she felt about her designs being the most copied in the fashion industry, echoed everywhere from lesser catwalks in New York and Milan to the market stalls of London and Shanghai.
She smiled, shrugged, and pronounced it “flattering. I do notice, of course I do; I see it in the street.” Is she ever tempted to buy the endless high street versions of her signature minimal chic? “I don’t have time to go shopping, otherwise I totally would,” she said.
It was the perfect Celine answer. Cool and laid-back where others would be shrill and overblown; classy without being snobbish; quietly resonant of the fundamental issues of modern life (time, the lack of); reinforcing an image of a woman who loves clothes but maintains a sense of proportion. These, even more than the round-shouldered coats and the funnel-neck sweaters, are the codes Philo has written for Celine during her six years in charge.
After taking an obtuse turn with her collection last season, which included flat walking sandals lined with brightly coloured teddy bear fur – soon to go on sale for ?840 a pair – this collection had the makings of an instant hit. The mood as the show ended was a feeling that even by Celine standards, this was particularly strong.
“Intimacy, softness, instinct and desire” were Philo’s words. The shape and colours were feminine, with skirts in nubbly cream or peach wool cut in a close curve over the hips before fluting to below the knee. The Celine woman can at times seem cool to the point of guardedness, but she seemed softer, more approachable this season. Handbags were made from the same fabrics as the clothes, and hugged the body, so although styled for the outdoors the models looked cosy rather than armoured.
Oblique references and unnerving touches are part of any Celine show. On each seat was a scrapbook of visual references, including a detail from Van Eyck’s 1434 painting, the Arnolfini Marriage; photographs of cloud formations; and an image of NUD 3, Sarah Lucas’s abstract nude sculpture made from breezeblock and tights. On the catwalk were nuggets, curveballs and in-jokes. The idea of softness was elaborated into fur dresses, and coats which featured trompe l’oeil sleeves tied around the shoulder; there was a wink to fashion’s vogue for checks with clothes in the checked weave of plasticised laundry holdalls.

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