Céline Electrifies the Runway for Spring 2014

Long Nguyen is the co-founder and style director of Flaunt. To call Phoebe Philo’s work at Céline in the past five years minimalist is a misnomer. I
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Long Nguyen is the co-founder and style director of Flaunt. To call Phoebe Philo’s work at Céline in the past five years minimalist is a misnomer. I
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Long Nguyen is the co-founder and style director of Flaunt.

To call Phoebe Philo’s work at Céline in the past five years minimalist is a misnomer. It's a lazy way of characterizing her clothes, which are--more than anything else--a philosophical comment on how fashion views women in modern society.

A sense of discretion and anonymity pervades her collections. She creates garments for women who no longer feel the need to be the object of seduction that much of the fashion world wants her to be. Instead, Philo cuts her heavy fabrics away from the woman's body to emphasize the garment instead. These are clothes designed to protect the woman, but they are also made to give her joy and pleasure.

Her philosophy remained intact today as she embarked on a new direction for Céline. The Tennis Club's washed-out red bricks and raw plywood ceiling were a stark contrast to the radiant collection. Philo added bright color and prints to her silhouettes, which felt more sporty than in previous seasons.

Inside the leaf-green inspiration book, which was tied with a yellow string, was the inspiration for the collection: Graffiti by Brassaï. Published in 1960, it marked the first time graffiti was deemed an art form, albeit a brut and primitive one.

A white tank dress with black hand-painted brush strokes, worn with a fire-red print underskirt, opened the fast-paced show. The use of graffiti strokes as prints gave the clothes a new direction, as well as a rawness that contrasted with previous, more monochromatic collections. One great look was the black sleeveless dress with large yellow brush strokes, worn with a striped asymmetrical skirt. The belted shawl-collar coats, with swirling reds and greens and pale yellow and blues--grade school colors--were also notable.

Yet for all the wildness in the brush strokes, a black tailored blazer--worn with a white dress that had a sheer underskirt--was a standout at the closing of the show: a signature moment in a sea of newness.

On the accessories side, there was plenty to fight over: blue soft-leather clutches with tassels, a double-zipper flat envelope clutch, and little leather booties in black, brown and rust. And don’t forget those metal bangles.

Photos: IMAXtree