- Associated Press - Sunday, October 3, 2010

PARIS (AP) - After redefining the way women dress, Phoebe Philo _ Celine designer and purveyor of the new minimalism that has taken catwalks and Main Street by storm _ is aiming to redefine the values of the luxury industry.

Many of the supple silks and cotton fabrics that made up her clean-lined spring-summer 2011 ready-to-wear collection Sunday were sourced from small mills in Japan and elsewhere that craft material by hand the old way. She acknowledged that working with such small providers can prove more complicated than going through the large-scale European mills that luxury labels like Celine would normally use, but said “if you want it, anything is possible.”

“It’s slower because of the distance, but I just thought it was really important we stepped out of the European industrialized universe … (to get) back to basics,” Philo told The Associated Press in a backstage interview.

Her third collection for Celine since returning to fashion after a yearslong hiatus continued in the minimalist vein that has become her trademark, but softened it with some ethnic touches.

And as if Celine didn’t have enough to offer the working women of the world, Akris gave professional ladies even more to choose from with a collection of boardroom-ready looks that were just chic enough.

Givenchy delved into the dark side with a dramatic, S&M-soaked collection, while John Galliano continued to churn out the magpie looks that are unmistakably his. Galliano’s show was staged in a gilded Paris theater, and being in the audience there was like watching a lush and elaborate pantomime with the world’ biggest costume budget.

Emerging young French talent Alexis Mabille sent out a collection of pretty tan and gray sundresses with full skirted shapes that seemed to be surfing on the “Mad Men” craze. Mabille’s signature touch, pretty bows, lent the dresses and extra dose of polished sixties-era femininity.

Still, perhaps because it stuck so close to the white and neutral palette favored by Paris designers this season, the collection blended with dozens of others that fashion insiders have sat through over the past five days. A solid, if perhaps a tad unremarkable, effort from Mabille.

After long day’s worth of shows, much of the fashion crowd hit Italian label Fendi’s party, where legedary eighties band Duran Duran was scheduled to play a set.

On Monday, the City of Light’s nine-day-long ready-to-wear marathon moves into day seven with one of the week’s big question marks, British designer Giles Deacon’s debut collection storied-but-floundering house Emanuel Ungaro. Deacon is the latest in a long series of designers to try to reverse Ungaro’s fortunes, and his arrival came on the heels of the house’s disastrous collaboration with Lindsay Lohan _ all of which has, of couse, piqued the fashion world’s interest.

CELINE

Celine designer Philo won a cult following during her time at the label’s crosstown rival, Chloe, and her return to fashion touched off the new minimalist movement that’s swept catwalks worldwide and spawned countless imitations. With Sunday’s collection, the British-born designer continued to refine her pared-down aesthetic, sending out square-shaped blouses in leather and low-slung, wide-legged trousers.

A kaftan that appeared to have been made from a starched white menswear shirt and a nubby, pointy-hooded robe-dress had a rugged Berber feel, while a quilted vest seemed to look to the Mongolian highlands for inspiration.

Philo said the collection was her way of stepping back from the industrialized, urban fray.

“There was an idea of travel, nothing specific about a country or a place, but a feeling of getting away from urban and getting back to a kind of artisan’s way of working,” she told The Associated Press in a backstage interview, adding that many of the fabrics were sourced from small producers in Japan and elsewhere.

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