The forceful, minimal path forged by Phoebe Philo at Celine has influenced designers far and wide this season. Granted, a general clean-up was on the cards - it's a new decade after all, and what's more fashion than wiping the slate clean to start over again? But Philo was the catalyst. Certainly, the influence of her last show hung heavy over Tommaso Aquilano and Roberto Rimondi's Autumn/Winter 2010 collection for Gianfranco Ferre. Their neutral-dominated palette, use of leather pieced into the yokes of simple sack-dresses, and in particular a high-waisted pair of nautical trousers teamed with a diminutive externally-seamed blouse and chain belt bore her imprimatur. Oddly though, this mood seemed mingled with a harder than usual stare at the house archives. The harsh suiting, piecing leather into the front and flank of grey tweed, and lavish fur smothering collars, cuffs and sometimes whole sleeves, looked like something lifted straight out of Ferre's late eighties shows. Those clean silhouettes were fussed up with surface detail - woven fabric panels, geometric quilting and even burnished gold fishscale beading in a dud finale of dated column dresses.
Maybe it was meant to mesh old and new, invigorate the history of the house with an injection of youth. It's worked before, after all. But minimalism and Gianfranco Ferre's ornate, even baroque aesthetic could never make good bedfellows. Attracting opposites is one thing, but trying to cross-breed the antithetical is suicide. More worrying than this is the simple fact neither of these visions belonged to Aquilano and Rimondi. Some of the Ferre touches of texture, technique and tailoring were great, and the aforementioned white trouser/blouse combo looked good. Good enough, in fact, to feature in one of Philo's collections. But these designers would do better to get their heads out of the Ferre archives, and magazines filled with other people's ideas, and spend some time out in the world with their potential customers.