There was one model in the Chloé show who was a dead ringer for the house's designer, Phoebe Philo. That may have been an unconscious fluke of casting, but the clothes look like Phoebe, too. Now that she's moved to Paris, the London girl's references have acquired a French accent. "I went through my mum's old fashion magazines—she had a garageful, from when my parents were living in Paris in the late seventies. That's when I was born," she said, "and I just thought the girls looked so gorgeous, fresh, and happy."

So picture a time when French mags showed endless sunny, energetic spreads of models skipping about, laughing in accessible ready-to-wear. When wide-legged bottom-hugging trousers and jeans were cut up to the waist, wedges were in, and cheap-chic fluorescent jelly sandals were paired with short shorts, sporty striped rugby shirts, washed cotton overalls, and sloppy rolled-up work pants.

Philo recaptured a lot of that feeling quite literally, in what looked like a natural reconfiguring of her knack for sexy designer denim. She also worked in the dressy, Frenchified eyelet and lace that has underpinned the label since the sixties, along with Fiorucci-era jokey banana prints for off-the-shoulder tees and swimsuits. The shoes—which under Philo's tenure have become a house moneymaker—were a cool composite of Lucite wedge, slivers of silver leather, and macramé toe strap.

At the end, Phoebe herself made a runway turn for photographers in Chloé jeans and a gauzy blue top—a far cry from her usual brief, cool, self-deprecating, British wave. Perhaps that's a sign of her growth in confidence, but it also gave Chloé's worldwide fans their first opportunity to get a good look at the personality who drives the brand. Cute move.