Phoebe Philo hasn’t been at Chloe for almost fives seasons now but her presence is still felt. Take the short tenure of Paulo Melim Anderson as the ultimate example of Philo’s lasting legacy. Anderson, a the former second hand at Marni took Chloe in bold new directions – fusing together the eclectic sensibilities of Marni with the natural girlishness of Chloe. The resulting work was depending on who you asked either horrifying, muddled or genius. Some hailed the new aesthetic as a fresh after the Philo-inspired committee respite that produced S/S 07. Others felt it was too much change too soon – Paulo’s deconstructed dresses with their unusual color pairings and avant garde leanings may have alienated fans of a brand that had been under the rule of Philo (and to a lesser extent McCartney) a semi-sweet and ultimately feminine affair. Perhaps Melim Anderson’s main problem was that he failed to follow the old theatre adage – know your audience.
In spite of this failing Anderson’s last collection – the F/W 08 parade of soft florals and wearable little dresses – was arguably his most palatable but it was already too late. The mob had spoken and he was on his way out.
Now its Hannah McGibbon’s turn and with her first showing for resort the shift in mood is quite evident. Gone is Paulo’s modernism and his odd touches, in their place are decidedly more subdued ensembles some graced with the lightness of the Philo touch. The airy lace white dress and flat sandal combo is something fit for Penelope Tree. While the leopard print coat looks as though it were stolen straight from the closet of Kate Moss – pairing it with nautical stripes was an inspired choice. An added bonus are the petite purses that were shown – each an understated winner – and potential coup de grâce given Chloe’s reliance on its accessories division.
For every hit there is of course a corresponding miss – something looks a tad off in the fit with some of the outfits. Romina Lanaro is a model blessed with long limbs and svelte proportions but in some of the ensembles she is quite literally drowning in fabric. Volume is all good when done right but I can’t help but think many of these pieces could stand to be taken in just a notch. There is also the nothing particularly new being brought to the table – McGibbon is essentially picking up right where her former boss left off in terms of design.
Excess fabric aside I do think there is something there to McGibbon work – as an old Philo admirer I can’t complain too much. As we all know there is nothing quite as rewarding as a good spinoff. I look forward to seeing what McGibbon brings to the table come the real test in September.