#2015 – Phoebe Philo

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The Designers of 2015 list is topped by Phoebe Philo, of course. The woman who designs for women. The designer, who makes Celine most coveted season-to-season. Although she is praised for reviving minimalism, her fashion dictionary for 2015 is supplied with all –  femininity, sensuality, travel, eclecticism and colour.

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Pre-Fall’15 – Pre-fall at Celine usually means a selection of classical, yet sophisticated clothes kept in toned colours – this year, however, Phoebe had a playful moment, pushing her austere comfort zones.  Hand-embroidered folklore caftans, fringed ponchos and over-sized, burgundy culottes are just few of mentioned must-haves, which make most of Parisian women drool. There was also this chic slip-dress action – worn in a very Celine-ish way, it felt light and slightly infantile, but in a good way.

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AW15 – Phoebe Philo precisely described her woman for fall. “I just want to be a woman“. A woman with ups and downs, which one day is the queen of the world in a bicolor satin dresses and the second day a sophisticated poet or artist in existential, black turtleneck. She wants to be seductive or ooze with charm. But she’s more than attractive – she’s confident, open-minded, smart and knows what’s worth for her. “The best part of this job is finding out more about myself,” Philo said after the show. “It gets deeper and deeper into the roots.” And where those roots went deep today was into a new sense of playfulness. Big, fluffy pom-pons? Otters, foxes and deer as naive animal prints? Duvet coats? “Dressed-up-ness,” Philo called it. “I was never in the head space to approach it before. I find glamour and sexuality awkward. When do they feel authentic? What’s real, what’s not?” Big, rhetorical questions. And Philo addressed them with a collection that, by her own opinion, was a little Latin American. “The blood is hotter,” she said. “The approach is more dramatic.” Of course, Phoebe understands that not every lady feels like going for intense colours. “That’s why there were other times when it was more gritty, more Northern soul, less passionate.

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Resort’16 – It’s a kind of fashion tradition, that we see Celine‘s pre-collection just few weeks before they hit the stores. When Phoebe Philo introduced this rule, the fashion system shifted. No wonder why – when we see the pre-collections six months before they are really available, there is a kind of deja vu feeling later on. There is a lack of excitement. When Philo drops her pre-collection, there is this surprise effect that certainly moves the brand’s customers when they walk into the stores. The resort 2016 is a true pleasure, both for the eye and the desire sense. The collection is a modern version of a French wardrobe – here, you will surely find a striped shirt, high-waisted pants and a raffia tote from the Basque summer adventures. Also, the wardrobe contains an essence of minimal, French glamour, which was strong in the 60’s & 70’s Paris – take the green, Pierre Cardin-like vest or Yves Saint Laurent safari trench-coat, revisited with some arty patterns. There is the feeling of a “woman who travels” in this collection, too – the Babouche slippers convey the oriental mood and the eclectic jewellery brought from Milan’s most edgy flea-markets and antiquaries.

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SS16 – These dresses and coats are what women want today. And the perfect balance between masculine chic and sensual lace makes this collection an updated check-list of what a contemporary woman should have in her wardrobe. “It’s about taking her out of urban life and putting her feet on the sand. It’s where I long to be, more and more.” Although the orange-yellow-blue coloured tent foreshadowed a very bold collection, the designer delivered a discreet, but powerful outing – and, as usually under a tent, we really had sand instead of a tile or a carpet. Which felt so hearty and down-to-earth. Just like the clothes. “I am somebody who is interested in how clothes make us feel,” she said, “and in how we behave in different places. I thought, If you were traveling for a year, what would you need to take with you?” Well, the answer is – the basics. Both, a breezy and warm dress; a light-weight coat; something more intimate and something more built-up. Just like the shoes. My initial reaction to the boots was reserved, however after a moment of reflection I thought it’s a smart move. It depends where you are heading this summer – mountains? Why not. This collection is a spectrum of variations – really, every outfit, in its own way, is good for a specific occasion, creating a beautiful combination of daily essentials. And Phoebe Philo knows, what’s essential. We trust her.

Surely, 2016’s Celine will nail it every single time.

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#2015 – Nicolas Ghesquiere

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Nicolas Ghesquiere is praised by many as the designer, who perfectly highlights the quintessence of a 21st century wardrobe of a woman – his absolutely wearable and hi-techn clothes are all about comfort and a kind of refreshing, neo-eclecticism. His year at Louis Vuitton is also a year full of diversity – definitely, Nicolas and his team represent the French maison as a multi-cultural and stereotype-breaking brand through beautiful pink and afro haired models walking their world-wide runways (we have even came across Palm Springs this year for the Resort 2016 collection)! Thanks to Nicolas Ghesquiere, Louis Vuitton has become a label that is more than clothes and a vast range of accessories – now, Louis Vuitton is an open-minded, lifestyle project.

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AW15 – Autumn-winter 2014 was about 70’s. Spring-summer 2015 was looking forward to vintage florals and denim. The autumn-winter 2015 collection was “looking into the future”, as Nicolas Ghesquiere stated backstage. And, it really did. Presented at the Louis Vuitton Foundation, the designer’s muse, Freja Beha, walked down the boldly coloured runway in a fluffy, white shearling coat. Then, the model favourites like Lineisy Montero and Fernanda Ly wore abstract peplum tops, satin suites with logo appliqued t-shirts and lace dresses. Kept in a rich colour palette, Ghesquiere’s conceptual take on the winter wardrobe is both über-feminine and simultaneously casual, noting the luxe sweat-pants and lovely tank-tops.

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Resort’16 – Nicolas Ghesquiere amazed me during his recent Resort collection. Louis Vuitton‘s is the first collection, in which he shows he is really the boss of the brand. The collection, presented in Palm Springs, California, was a sunny blast of fresh, slightly eccentric fashion. Nicolas showcased the silhouettes, that have never been present in his previous shows for the house and Balenciaga. Long, woman-warrior dresses with embellished gems; high-waisted trousers with harness belts; beautifully laser-cut leather jackets, which reminded me of the Victoriana era, brought the mood of Nicolas’ favourite musician, Grimes. But also, some sexy shorts and crop-tops appeared, giving us the vibe of the real all-American summer.  What should I say more? California suits Nicolas Ghesquiere as much as Paris.

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SS16 – This season, Nicolas Ghesquiere really did show his refreshing stance at Vuitton – cyber luxury is the best term that reflects the mix of exclusive logo prints and pink-haired model wearing highly hype (whatever this means nowadays) clothes. Nicolas definitely had Japan on his mind this time – the Harajuku girls with manga-inpired robot tiaras and platform sandals make this collection sharp, but with a slight bit of kawaii flavour coming straightly from Tokyo. However, the collection had something more ethnical, too – note the lovely hand-stitched embroideries on suede biker jackets below. Or the feather details on mesh tank-tops and badass gloves. This how you do ethno, Valentino – keep it discreet, but appropriate. But what really hit me this time, is the amazing talent of fusing fashion history that the designer is known for – the Victorian blouses with leather vests and medieval inspired gowns (Resort 2016 continuation) have never, ever looked so modern as in Nicolas’ vision. These shirts, dresses, motorcycle leggings and, yes, jumpsuits (!) are highly in need. Also, I am drooling over these leather, pleated totes – the beauty of these accessories makes them conceptual objects, rather than just “bags”.

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#2015 – Alessandro Dell AcQua

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Alessandro Dell Acqua made his eponymous label, No21, a go-to brand thanks to his well-known signature which highlights his love to a feminine, sensual woman. His innately Italian sense of style mixed with his favourite tunes of George Michael makes his collections feel chic, but in an effortless way.

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AW15 – Alessandro knows, how to mix contemporary with opulent – a tweed pencil skirt worn with a gold-patent jacket; a  hoodie styled with hand-embroidered dress – those are just few examples of how this designers rolls in fashion. For autumn-winter 2015, the designer of No21 brought a lot of blush pink which beautifully contrasted with all of the shades of grey and beige that overlapped on the catwalk. The two snow-white looks were excellent, too – the coat and dress with floral embroideries are dreamy.

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 Resort 2016 –  Dell AcQua fused many themes at a time – the marine chic which involved stripes; ethnic prints; oriental textiles (look at the canvas shoes!). All of that mused about the idea of a perfect “tropical escape” wardrobe. The midi skirt with a sexy cut-out looked truly gorgeous with that over-sized chunky sweater, while the warm colour of curcuma gave a laid-back mood. Throughout his fashion tenure, Dell AcQua is known for his talent of mixing feminine silhouttes with masculine forms – the sailor jacket is the must-have of the collection, combined with one of these crispe checked skirts.

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SS16 Men – “I took a big risk, breaking the mold I have created myself,” The designer of No21 said backstage. “It was time, I think. Freedom was high on my agenda. I’d like to convey a clear message of fashion as an amusing expression of personality. We can do that in Milano, too.” Indeed, the new collection for men was totally different than all the others up to date. Totally new silhouettes – shorts which reminded skirts; over-sized knitwears (which, basically, landed on my wish-list); great varsity jackets and elegant peacoats. The textures here became more tactile and softer. And the ultra-long t-shirts and tank-tops gave us a chilled-out vibe (just like in the women’s collection for Resort 2016), just like the boots, which had their laces tied in a slouchy way.

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SS16 – Care-free. Comfortable. These are the words that can easily describe Alessandro Dell Acqua‘s spring-summer 2016 collection. With George Michael’s moody tune playing during the fashion show, the models of the moment – Lineisy Montero, Molly Bair, Stella Lucia – wore long, silk dresses in delicate cigarette prints. The romantic colour palette was broken by gypsy-esque florals and modernist stripes. Also, the collection was plenty of the season’s favourite bias-cut slip dresses thrown over t-shirts – this gave the entire collection a very easy attitude, and the socks styled with sheer skirts were a throwback to #normcore. These clothes will definitely hit the stores with success, just like the statement tasseled, raffia sandals. These will be truly popular next season, as they are the instant favourites of street-style stars. Also, it’s worth to note that within the summer season, No21 starts expands its fashion line into eyewear. The first silhouettes are all about circular, simple forms and comfort of wearing.

I must admit, that season after season, Alessandro builds his fashion identity with amazing speed – this collection can be called as the best one to date. And no wonder why. It’s really good.

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#2015 – Hillier Bartley

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Coming from the British designer duo, Katie Hillier and Luella Bartley, Hillier Bartley is a brand which breaks the industry codes. In February of this year, the first AW15 collection of Hillier Bartley was quietly presented to a few buyers; then, a mysterious Instagram account appeared which instantly felt like an intimate, designer mood-board. But how the new vision of these two contemporary designers really look like? The collection, just like the brand, reflects the edgy, slightly decadent style of the designers – it also celebrates British tailoring with a feminine twist. The tuxedo scarves, floor-sweeping dresses and knits gave the overall effect a seductive softness / slouchiness. Bartley has recently stated in the autumn issue of i-D, “as you get older you become so much more in tune with your own sexuality. This collection I feel is the sexiest thing I’ve ever done.” Even though it’s filled with men’s basics, it’s elegant, and indeed, sexy at the same time. Warm wool coats, fringed bags, satin blouses (“A satin blouse with no bra! That reminded me immediately of Madonna in a blue Gucci silk… Oh yeah, you could see her nips. That’s what I like” Hillier describedand lady-like silk gowns – and all of that kept in a moody, nostalgic manner.

But what makes this brand even more outstanding  is the way the women behind it do the “business”. As the industry is in a constant marathon and it doesn’t seem to slow its pace, Hillier and Bartley don’t want their baby-brand to become a fussy institution. “At the moment I feel like I could happily not do another show. I don’t think it fits what we’re a trying to do. I would much prefer to show someone, and talk about it myself and have them trying things on and feeling it” the designers said in the interview. Love this hearty and humane approach so much, as it’s frequently missed in today’s fashion. Wishing the designers to keep up with their exceptional project in 2016!

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Designers of 2015 – Stella Jean

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Born in Rome and of Caribbean descent, Stella Jean’s aesthetic is a fusion of her Creole heritage and meticulous, Italian craftsmanship. As a designer who respects ethnical matters, Stella Jean should be praised not only for her breath-taking clothes, but for her idea of giving women and men around the world (from Burkina Faso to Kenya) a chance to do their craft in ethical and comfortable conditions!

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AW15 – At the end of March, I went to Milan to preview Stella’s AW15 – the embroidery, the prints, the colour combinations looked impressive. And what’s interesting, thanks to mixing classical, Italian heritage with the Bollywood-inspired theme, the AW15 collection is absolutely avoiding the word “kitsch”. There’s nothing too excessive about this collection – basically, Stella delivered a set of wearable pieces decorated with mesmerizing embroideries and bold print matchings. These voluminous skirts look so great with the ethno-patterned knits and simple, checked shirts!

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AW15 Men – For autumn-winter 2015, Stella focused on India and Nepal – warm colours, enchanting embroideries and oriental silhouettes appeared not only in her womenswear collection, but also in men’s. The boys look good in this lifey, printed splendour! The kaleidoscopic jackets, hand-stitched pea-coats and turquoise trousers rule. Also, this collection brings Wes Anderson’s emotional Darjeeling Limited mood to the men’s wardrobe.

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Ave Cesaria by Stromae started to beat from the speakers. The ultra-modern venue of newly opened MUDEC Museum striked all of the guests. Just like the absolutely unexpected collection delivered by Stella Jean, the most bold and ethical-fashion thinking person in Milan. Stella Jean’s spring-summer 2016 collection marks the geographical and emotional map on which the main stages of Italian migrant identity are charted. And that’s not all. South America, North America, Africa and Europe are the destinations, that the Stella Jean woman reaches. As the show-note said, “the port of departure, so to speak, is Italy, represented by its sharp, sartorial qualities” – comfortable, wearable silhouettes were visible in over-sized pants and Euro-sleekness of polo shirts. Then, the journey continues, and Stella takes us to Brazil, full of raffia ruffles and Cariocan multi-coloured flounces. The imaginary “travel” itinerary is ready for the next place – the Andes, represented by artisanal and hand-painted motifs including pinatas, daily life of women wearing traditional bowler hats and striped tunics which reflected Andean style.

The ethnical beauty of the collection is contrasted by American varsity jackets and over-sized cowboy shirts, while trench coats and men’s formal striped shirts made a sign of London’s well-known Savile Row needle. However, it is worth to note that some of the fabrics were hand-made in Burkina Faso. Stella Jean and her SS16’s flowing dresses, boxy jackets and “amphora-like” skirts not only made a strong impression, but also felt very right for the current, migration conflict. The collection was like a melting-point of cultures, filled with beauty and creative freedom. Also, it proves that fashion can be politically important.

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