At Phoebe Philo’s Céline, boundary-breaking fashion is secondary to the meaning behind the clothes.
Invisible. That is what Phoebe Philo’s clothes for Céline make you feel. Not romantic, like Valentino. Or dark and edgy, like Saint Laurent. Simply invisible. A woman in a perfectly cut shirt and a pair of pants. And, oh, what a relief! Because we are busy. We work. We wipe our children’s mouths with the backs of our hands as we rush out the door. We don’t have time to consider whether our prints match or our buttons align. To try on different outfits each morning, like so many different personalities. To fuss and preen. That seems silly, somehow weak. Despite Philo’s many best efforts, there is a Céline uniform: large, slouchy trousers; a collarless shirt; flats; a tuxedo jacket — preferably in navy, black or cream. The clothes are quiet and not meant to make a statement. And so you look invisible. Able to be viewed for more than your surface appearance. This is power dressing.
“I actually cried,”Phoebe Philo conceded Tuesday night at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. The designer was cohosting, along with Marco Gobetti, a cocktail party to toast Isa Genzken, whose retrospective — underwritten by Céline — was opening at the museum.
Upon seeing the exhibition, Philo had gotten choked up. “She’s just brilliant,” Philo continued of the artist, whose comprehensive, 150-piece exhibition showcases her body of work spanning a 40-year oeuvre. Guests including Sofia Coppola, Kim Gordon and Yigal Azrouël floated through the galleries, filled with a dizzying array of Genzken-created stimuli: A passel of mannequins stood tall in the first room in various states of dress; concrete blocks with faux antennas stalking out of them were perched on a table in the next; a mobile of dented pots and pans dangled in another, and a tiny, battery-powered hula dancer wiggled in the middle of the floor a few feet away. The exhibition will be on view until March 10, then hitting the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and the Dallas Museum of Art.
Philo told guests by the bar of daughter Maya’s latest concern. The nine-year-old had asked for a private moment when on the phone with Philo earlier that day. “I said, ‘Of course darling. What’s wrong?’” Philo said. “She said, ‘I want to change my name to Violet.’” The designer suggested Maya test-drive the switch for the weekend. “I wanted to change my name to Michelle when I was young,” Philo said. “It’s such an uncool name, it’s almost cool.”
Salvador Dalí and Walt Disney Studios, “Destino,” 1946-2006
Not many people have heard of this collaboration between Walt Disney and Salvador Dalí, two of the greatest and most iconic artists of their time. It was originally planned in 1946, but the project was scrapped for financial reasons. In 1999, Roy Disney decided to revive the project. Using the original sketches, notes, and seventeen seconds of animation, he helped to create this collaborative masterpiece.
The story follows a mortal woman who loves the god Chronos. As one would expect, the project is surreal, which makes the details of the affair difficult to decipher. However, like Surrealist paintings, this isn’t meant to be completely decipherable. Much of the beauty is in the impossible elements. For example, the seventeen seconds of original footage can be found about five minutes and thirty seconds into the video, when the negative space between two tortoises (who vaguely resemble Dalí himself) become the woman.
The video also includes nods to some of Dalí’s other, more well-known work. One particularly transparent reference is the ants crawling out of Chronos’ palm at the four minute mark. Ants also crawl out of a man’s palm in Dalís collaborative short film “Un Chién Andalou.”
The finished product is inspiring, a beautiful example of both classic Disney animation and Dalí’s iconic imagery.
Céline — the Skull and Bones of fashion? On Monday, the house held mini-shows for press, WWD included. In the past, Céline has closed such presentations to photographers, but sent out photos to run with reviews. Not this time. A quick check-in postshow to confirm the arrival time for the photos revealed: Shhhhhh!
One of Céline’s p.r. ladies explained firmly that the plan is to keep Phoebe Philo’s most recent design activity secret for a while. No reviews, no tweets, no phone photos.The strategy (one first tried and since abandoned by Tom Ford) is to hold off on all press until closer to the retail season. Alas, some of us are precluded by current employment from accepting entrance into Céline’s secret society.
Hence, this word on another stellar Philo outing: A leaner yet still relaxed silhouette dominated the tight lineup marked by a distinct utilitarian vibe. This showed up in a mostly neutral palette of khaki, black and white, and bold D-ring and pocket details. While these rendered straightforward chic, a pair of transparent white dresses over loud underpinnings — one green, one purple — made a slyly subversive tweak on nurse’s garb. There were also rich suedes, including an ultrachic belted lavender shift and fabulous two-toned minks — one color coming and another going.