Phoebe Philo's Celine is not really about the new - it's about a rigorous refinement of what she feels is right for the moment. The parquet pattern of her Autumn/Winter 2011 catwalk was a perfect metaphor for her Celine collections, each one interlocking with the other, her garments the building-blocks of the perfect modern wardrobe.
One is loath to use the term flawless when describing fashion - pieces can always be improved, if not on the catwalk then certainly in the transition from the idealised body of a model to that of a very real woman. It is a mark of Philo's confidence in her clothing that she leaves herself so little room for error. Her clothes today epitomised the Constructivists' edicts. Don't stick ornament onto dress: the seams themselves, which are essential to the cut, give the dress form.
Form was Philo's obsession today, and seams too, while we're on the subject. Her inspiration was classic cars - arguably, in the eyes of a man, there's a connection between the cantilevered chassis of an automobile and feminine curves. Philo's less interested in the curves and more the surfaces: she streamlined her silhouettes, using seams as go-faster grooves to carve ergonomic lines into her garments - witness the fullness in her mid-calf length coats that pulled behind the body in the need for speed, peeling away from taut turtlenecks that resembled racing driver duds. Collarless dresses were articulated around the female form without gripping it, and a bustier was pinched crisply into shape like a Rolls-Royce bonnet mid-crash.
The textures of the clothing itself managed to look hi-tech and old-world simultaneously: blistered, bubbly leather-cum-leatherette, patchworks of odd-coloured cashmere and, later, fur, and wood-veneer prints. Coincidence or not, the latter strayed a little too close to last season's Rodarte to make entirely comfortable viewing, but looked good nonetheless sliced into crisp shirts and the skinny trousers that Philo made her supremely flattering lower-half leitmotif.
The refreshing element of Philo's work is always its resolute realism. Despite the short (only thirty-something pieces that seemed to whizz by in seconds), sharp shock of the show, it's easy to imagine every piece sliding seamlessly off the catwalk and on to each and every woman in the audience. Make that speeding off the catwalk - Philo's look is Formula One fashion at its very finest.