Fashion's favourite phrase right now is 'What will Phoebe do next?' - as the industry continues to obsess over Phoebe Philo's Celine, the standard bearer of a new all-pervading Minimalism that has permeated every label's aesthetic to such an extent it barely bears mentioning. And that has all been within a single year since her first show, let's remember. Hence the pressure for Philo to perform is immense.
Her latest spring collection was, it seems, about satisfying us with the old whilst ringing in something of the new. Philo isn't prone to excessive seasonal change. Celine is a grower and it reflects Philo's confidence in her own convictions that she's so willing to eschew fashion's current urge to rip up and start again with each new season. She's building a wardrobe - a very expensive one at that - for her Celine woman, and by no means imagines her burning the previous season before investing anew.
There was a sporty vibe this season, with a looser, freer shape to everything. Shirts and jackets were wide, on the edge of sloppy, cut boxy and away from the body, and Philo's new trouser shape is low on the hip and wide on the leg, the crotch dropped slightly like a baggy pair of jeans or (very very chic) tracksuit pants. The tailoring to make that work is of course formidable, and they looked fantastic, predominantly in white and sometimes patched with stripes of colour down the leg like judo belts. Those colours were the shockers - vibrant blocks of green, cobalt and a hot vermillion shot through in bands, or used as blocks on hems and necks. Sometimes the hues came in paisley scarf patterns on Nehru-collar shirts and trousers for an eastern feel, reflected in the intricate quilting on ivory coats and knitwear that looked like raffia.
Alongside those touches of new decoration, Celine's minimalism was pushed to its zenith. Philo refers to it as 'Reductionism' and reduced was the word for her black and white jumpsuits, rendered with a minimum of seams, or a savagely simple black v-neck dress. It reminded one of Chanel's 'Ford' - so called because you could only have it in black, but also because it sold as well as the then-new Model T. This one will too, as will the dynamite combinations of strict starchy shirts with narrow below-the-knee pencil skirts. This was cleanest in white lawn and an ivory linen, but sharpest in a bright blue poplin tucked into an oxblood leather number with bag to match.