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Suzy Menkes

Vogue International Editor Suzy Menkes is the best-known fashion journalist in the world. After 25 years commenting on fashion for the International Herald Tribune (rebranded recently as The International New York Times), Suzy Menkes now writes exclusively for Vogue online, covering fashion worldwide.

Céline: The Beauty of Indecisiveness

Paris Fashion Week Day Five

28 Сентября 2014

Shall I wear my trim, slim coat, belted in leather with a hard, gold pendant? Or maybe the smart tunic top and trousers — but with my ankles all fluffy with fringing? Flats or heels?

Perhaps ballerina slippers mounted on block heels? Do I feel like flowers? Which flowers? I like both the bright red and the faded ones. So what about the two of them together?
The powerful Céline show was an ode to indecisiveness. It was not a witty take on women’s supposed inability to make a decision. It was about rejoicing in those changes of mind and embracing fashion’s diversity — in style, fabric, decoration and embellishment.

Or as designer Phoebe Philo herself put it, meeting and greeting backstage while holding her daughter’s hand:
“I had a sense of a whole process of not editing and not needing certainty,” she said, explaining that the florals, when bright patterns took over dresses or two different pallid shades were mixed, were because “there is something warm about flowers”.

I am usually too frantic to pour over the sets at shows for long, but I did notice the different materials: hard, shiny, lacquered plastic as opposed to abstract shapes in plywood.
The collection seemed like that choice of offerings. It was not about a female designer thinking out a useful wardrobe for a working woman — although there were fine spring coats, their lapels outlined with stitching, and on a thin belt a rounded gold jewel, looking like a cross between a cowbell, a locket and a fertility symbol.

There was much of the designer’s streamlined modern wardrobe, but often with a quirky touch. Philo might scoop out fabric to create windows on the body, perhaps at the elbow joints, or slice a space around the breastbone, or display flesh at the midriff through cut-outs at the sides of the torso.
I like the idea that women can have it all — at least in their closets. This collection seemed very different from Phoebe’s bold African inspirations of a year ago. The prints for Summer 2015 might be red florals, but they were as likely to be a mix of faded flowers like ancient, much-washed aprons.
There is poetry in randomness – especially for crazy-busy women whose lives go through a daily grind. I would be unlikely to fish a pair of sloppy canary-yellow pants out of the cupboard and match it with a tailored jacket. But I enjoy the concept of a modern woman no longer feeling constrained by what she wears.
Anyone not convinced by this new fashion world of personal choice could always go for the Céline bags: oval, and in soft, gleaming leather in rich colours. I did not notice many other choices, apart from an orange croc. But that was significant too. The focus of this once-minimal designer had tilted away from bags towards characterful, elegant clothes.

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