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Designer Phoebe Philo had worked with the artist Dan Graham to create the glass S-shaped pavilion in which to show her SS17 collection. “I wanted to see it cast through the kaleidoscope of Dan’s installation. The fact that people can see themselves and the clothes makes for more complex reflections.”
It created a bewildering space. Part window, part looking glass, the models walked in all directions, refracted through the glass walls like blurs along a corridor. The intensely private Philo, who herself can be remote and somewhat enigmatic, had likewise seemed to keep her woman at one remove.
The show itself was gentle and beguiling, mixing daywear with other more arresting propositions. The suiting jackets were oversized but fluid, the trousers were three-quarter-length, with printed chiffon inserts at the cuff. A coat jacket was twisted down the spine and given cutaway details and slung with golden rope. Bags were structured and ladylike and then exaggerated and floppy. The palette was neutral with spots of sorbet — a raspberry dress in chiffon, a pale lemon yellow, or a cotton shell top in mint.
But there were more subversive details here also: a white dress with pointy breasts was covered in an Yves Klein body splotch, another featured a bustier in a spiderweb crochet. Shoes were paired in different colours. Thin denier socks were incorporated into sandals. Philo has often unravelled the silhouette, here it was loose but quietly exposed, with nappa leather waistbands and sheer chiffon skirts. “I want to show that our bodies are bound to the ground whether we like it or not,” explained a show note, written by Graham. The details gave the collection a slightly primal instinct: you can dress the woman so many different ways, Philo seemed to be suggesting, but you can’t disguise the body underneath.