Phoebe's back, and you can tell. Returning after a season's maternity leave, Philo sent out a collection that put a crisp new shape, proportion, and vigor into Chloé's step. "I just wanted to do volume; something new," she said of the pristine A-line shapes and stiffer couture fabrics she used to replace the drifty layers that launched a gazillion copies last year. Now Chloé has a fresh look: It flares from the shoulder, stops above the knee, and swings leggily along on great chunky platforms.
White dresses, derived from looking at sixties ruffled shirts, were intricately worked in crunchy embroidery, organza appliqués, and frills. Immaculate as confirmation outfits, they breezed airily through the trends: a baroque pattern on a smock; table-linen cutwork curlicues on a ruffled-shoulder A-line dress. To counterpoint that, Philo introduced a new structure for her tailoring, cutting neatly fitted, pressed-linen sixties coats, and stiff little cropped jackets.
All this came about, she said, from her research into 1960's "old-lady chic." By the time she finished with it, of course, the "old" had thoroughly evaporated: This was a vision that will speak directly to Philo's generation of young women. One clear hint of the inspiration remained, though: the in-joke names with which she christened the new Chloé bags. There was Marge, the little snake evening purse on a silver chain; Edith, the conker-color washed-leather bag; and Gladys, the zip-laden tote. And for her own bow on the runway, Phoebe was wearing the other key accessory for spring: Lilian, the striped elastic belt.