PARIS--Like Lauren last season, I had a hell of a time getting to the Tennis Club de Paris for Céline's fall 2011 show. I'm pretty sure I'm the only show-goer who took three different metros and then pleaded with a cab driver to take me the rest of the way--which he only agreed to do after I paid him double and showed him the directions with Google maps on my phone.
But it's Phoebe Philo! The designer Lauren calls "the closest thing our generation will have to Coco Chanel." Her Céline girl is the girl everyone wants to look like. So a girl does what she's gotta do. And good thing, too, because Philo's fall collection for Céline was sleek perfection.
The runway inside the cavernous indoor court was made of glossy parquet flooring inlaid with marble tiles. The looks—sharp pared down calf-length coats, some with trench paneling at the shoulders and ties at the waist, others with thin lapels done in leather fastened to look double-breasted, paired with skinny pants and leather racing stripes—reflected the sleek floor.
After the show, Philo told the Telegraph's Hilary Alexander that she was inspired by the interiors of cars, that she loves driving and "find[s] women in cars very seductive." She also included several images of women at the wheel--whether a luxury car from the '70s or a scooter--in her "trend book" of images handed out to attendees. Indeed, as in the interior of a (very fine) car there was plenty of soft leather worked into coats, pants, and drop waist dresses. The only print in the collection, a wood grain, looked like a lacquered dashboard. Her fall color palette was saturated and hard: burgundy, mustard yellow, woody browns, and my favorite color combo--a chevron striped crewneck top in gray, navy, baby blue and burgundy--all of which made that one pastel pink look at the end (the Pink Panther was in the inspiration book) all the more impacting.
Philo's women are powerful and in control--they're in the driver's seat. They don't drape their handbags over their elbows, they tuck them under their arms like helmets post-race.
**All images: Imaxtree.