Although this show sits under the umbrella of menswear, for S/S 19, Phoebe English showed her lines side by side. Unlike bigger brands like Gucci and Balenciaga who have turned to co-ed shows, intermingling menswear and womenswear to the extent that the two are indistinguishable, English kept a clear divide between her men and women.
At first glance, the characteristics assigned to the clothes seemed stereotypical in their traditional nature. The press release stated, 'menswear remains utilitarian, womenswear remains imaginative and narrative based.' This seems to me a little 'cars for boys, dolls for girls' and here, the delicacy of the clothes spoke better than the notes about them.
Each detail had a parallel to it; for each dot was a stripe, each line a circle, each crisp shirt was paired with a crumpled linen. Balance, harmony and unison appeared to be English's aim. In a largely monochromatic palette, a base flame orange popped in her menswear. Mirrored yet muted, a dusky pink dress in draped bamboo silk stood out amongst black taffeta and tulle.
In part, the womenswear was made from unused material from the mens'. Indeed, the women's portion of the collection seemed rougher, a little wilder even. Small fins could be seen if one looked closely at the back of the trousers, an inventive addition that drew out the seemingly streamlined shapes. On the heads of the female models, these fins were imitated and exaggerated in conical crowns.
This was a classical collection from English, a show that positioned the gender binary as distinct, but connected.