February 12, 2004 New York
The collection's creative director is Tim Gardner, a former Calvin Klein-Jil Sander designer, and his loyalty to that school of luxe minimalism came through in the limited palette of black, wine, cream, and brown, and in the attention he lavished on utilitarian pieces like beautifully cut motorcycle jackets in leather or tweed, smart trenches, elegant long coats, and safari jackets. He played delicate off rough with fluttery dresses made from raw-edged silks worn with stompin' high-heeled motorcycle boots and detailed his pieces with silver D-rings and bits of sheer fabric. Bulky black knits got a bit heavy with walls of hanging fringe, though. Phi may be funded by a wealthy woman, but it's clearly no vanity project; this was a complete, thought-out collection filled with great pieces to make its front rowincluding the professionally glamorous Diane Sawyervery happy.