Phi F/W 09-10
When the four horsewomen of directional fashion-Erin Wasson, Vanessa Traina, Natasha Poly, and Lauren Santo Domingo-showed up at this year's Met Gala wearing Phi and looking fabulous, we knew that the label would soon be on everyone's lips. And rightfully so: such a strong collection deserves to be discussed! Designed by the talented Andreas Melbostad (an Alber Elbaz protégée with stints at Yves Saint Laurent and Calvin Klein under his belt), Phi's Fall 09 offerings combine the best of the season's biker-and-bondage trends, resulting in a darkly sophisticated and dangerously stylish look.
Though it's difficult to duplicate the luxury and quality of Phi's pieces completely, the runway collection is so inspiring that we couldn't resist giving it a Who What Wear-reinterpretation. Though Melbostad refrained from using all but the soberest colors (it's all blacks, blues, and grays, save for two cabernet-hued pieces), each look has texture galore. For example, the Paneled Silk Miniskirt ($1195) might seem simple from afar, but when it's worn with a Shearling Cropped Leather Jacket ($3195) and accessorized with Long Quilted Leather Gloves ($595), a Three-Buckle Leather Belt ($650), and some stompy Buckled Leather Ankle Boots ($995), the details really sing. Accordingly, we sought out a few select pieces that could easily combine to elevate a basic black outfit into something Phi-like and aggressively gorgeous. Not to boast, but we just might have created our best Inspired By yet. Read on for all our favorite finds and, if you're so inclined, let us know what fall collection you'd like us to recreate next.
1. French Connection Deconstructed Dress ($138)
These Inspired By stories usually start with a single piece, an item that so perfectly recalls a runway's vibe, we're forced to create a story to showcase it. In today's case, that item is a killer knit dress from French Connection. We think the black, charcoal, and gray paneling is simply so Phi-like (it's almost scary). Plus, consider the modestly cut frock's snug silhouette: doesn't it echo the collection's dominatrix chic perfectly? Indeed.
2. Topshop Agressa Ankle Boots ($190)
Okay: so we know that we've discussed buckled booties for ages and swoon over many a pair, but these are particularly noteworthy, we swear! Brought to you by the brilliant British minds behind Topshop, the Agressa Ankle Boot is just as strong and stern as the footwear shown at Phi, but available at a much more covetable price. While we like the faux-croc bootie shown above, you can also go for a simpler black leather version if you prefer. Just strap these wicked little warriors on over a matte pair of opaque tights, throw on your favorite black body-con items, and you'll be channeling Phi ASAP.
3. Arden B. Crinkle Skirt ($48)
Leather is particularly key to Phi's fall collection, as numerous runway looks involved zipper-embellished black leather skirts and pants. While there are lots of similar (but pricey) styles out there right now, we like Arden B.'s faux-leather skirt in black. The simple design is tough and stylish, just like our Inspired By collection.
4. Charlotte Russe Wide Strip Belt ($13)
As we mentioned earlier in this story, one of the major accessories in Phil's fall collection is the multi-buckle black leather belt. Whether it's corseting a sweater dress or cinching up a leather mini, it's a must-have for correctly interpreting the runway look. You can buy the designer version-which is lovely-now, or you can pick up a thrifty thrill like Charlotte Russe's Wide Strip Belt.
5. Diane von Furstenberg Clovis Gloves ($185)
The collection's biker-bondage vibe was definitely reinforced with accessories like above-the-elbow quilted leather gloves. Very Mad Max future apocalypse, for sure. While we civilians might find these ultra-long moto gloves a bit difficult to wear (hello bulky arms!), a leather-and-knit version is definitely doable. Accordingly, we flipped when we found this stylish pair of gorgeous gloves from Diane von Furstenberg. The medium gray leather is lovely and the black knit arms are much easier to wear than an all-leather version.
6. Topshop Knitted Gilet ($100)
As Melbostad so deftly demonstrated with this collection, when you're working with a limited color palette, it's nice to use lots of different fabrics. The final outfits are just more interesting, engaging, and nuanced. As such, you should definitely seek and source a faux-fur bolero or gilet, like this black version from Topshop. Throw it on over anything to give your outfit a touch of luxury and drama.
7. Bumble and bumble Shine ($35)
The beauty look at Phi was a study in understatement. Faces were basically bare and the hair was almost as minimal. Think: simple, straight, and semi-long. Of course, the models' locks were also wonderfully shiny and enviably sleek, just the sort of hair we often yearn for. While we're still fighting the frizz, one fussy day at a time, we're feeling that our hair dreams just might be achievable, thanks to Bumble and bumble's Shine. It's lightweight enough for even the finest strands yet robust enough for coarser locks-basically it's the best. Try it and see for yourself, you'll be glad you did!
Runway Images, from firstVIEW.