High-end fashion collections cannot be directed by committee, period. That ineluctable fact thudded onto the Chloé runway in exit one: a shapeless greige mac thrown over a frilled blouse and a pair of khaki pants hanging soggily from suspendersa look finished with a pair of clunky bottines. Two or three more outfitsa couple of loose artist's smocks and a gray-olive wool dress layered over trousersand it was clear that this collection was not about to snap with the vivacious, girl-friendly energy that Phoebe Philo brought to the house.
It would be exaggerating to call it definitively uglythough a pair of giant overalls and saggy-backed, folded-front turn-up pants were close calls. The trouble is more that Chloé, for so long a pacesetter of perfectly thrown-together personal style, has now inevitably decelerated into the league of followers. Without the instinctive drive of a strong designer, team-driven analysis tends to look outside, see what other people are doing, and come up with a general trend consensus. Thus, the contents of Chloé now have shades of Marc Jacobs' latest layerings (shorts over pants) and hints of Marni-cum-Yohji abstract shapes (loose-waisted, hopsacky things), while anxiously hanging on to last season's baby doll to keep up the label's continuity.
In this interim period, there will certainly be pieces to keep things ticking overthe little blouses and some pretty party dresses detailed with haphazard ripples of chiffon pleats. Looking ahead, it may be impossible to replicate the exact quality of casual cool that Philo brought to this label, because that belonged to her alone. But that's not to say another designer can't do something equally exciting in their own way. To keep Chloé cooking, that change needs to happen, and fast.