(ART ADV: Photos XNYT63-69 are being sent to NYT photo clients. Nonsubscribers can purchase one-time rights by calling: 1-888-603-1036 or 1-888-346-9867.)

(ART ADV: Photos XNYT63-69 are being sent to NYT photo clients. Nonsubscribers can purchase one-time rights by calling: 1-888-603-1036 or 1-888-346-9867.)

c.2012 New York Times News Service

PARIS Phoebe Philo, who this year had her third child, must have returned to work at Celine with a question of what to do next with a label that has the close following of a well-written television drama. The Celine narrative now includes cool sportswear, widely copied bags, hot shoes for grown-ups and those chunky metal cuffs.

What Phoebe does, people generally want.

Ignoring the tumult about the new designers at Dior and Saint Laurent, about the new minimalism and the return of the tuxedo or perhaps not in the mood to play along Philo on Sunday sent out a remarkably different silhouette, lean and full of slouch, as the Paris spring collections seem set to have one of the greatest rounds in years.

Philo showed maybe four jackets, and one was sleeveless. Her main idea was a slim-fitting top in crepe or sateen with a twist of fabric down low or across the bust, and maybe finished off loosely in the back, leaving the edges of the fabric frayed. On the bottom were wonderfully droopy pants in black or creamy white sateen or, for one style, with a brown leather bolero, burlap-rough linen.

Bare feet were planted in mink-lined leather shower sandals or in pumps in red, lavender or chick-yellow mink.

I guess Philo didn't feel like getting dressed.

Seriously, though, who wouldn't be tempted to throw a big housewife yawn at all the noir-satin looks on the runways? Who wouldn't want to wear furry slippers all day? And instead of a jacket, how about a cropped long-sleeve black top to pop over a dress?

Philo has good instincts, a real devil-may-care streak, and they showed in the collection down to the squashy, fold-over clutch bags and new twisted leather cuffs.

"I wanted to buy 80 percent of it," said Marilyn Blaszka, an owner of Blake in Chicago. "I just think that being a line designed by a woman for women is a big part of it."

Along with the slouchy pants, a sleeveless navy dress in that rough linen with a frayed hem just above the ankles summed up the mood, and why people buy the Phoebe script. It was clean, fluid and funky.

Hanging in shops right now are Rei Kawakubo's big, flat, cookie-cutter felt dresses in Play-Doh pink and red. Her audacious Comme des Garcons show last season took volumes to new extremes while proving again that good ideas are often under your nose.

The other day, when she sent out garments that consisted of muslin toiles (sort of working patterns) piled and pressed together and stitched down, I thought of the racks of toiles in Paris ateliers. Essential to dressmaking, they're a bit like the structural engineering for a crazy Zaha Hadid building.

But who ever notices them?

"I like using toiles because the shape stands out in the purest way," Kawakubo said the next day in her busy showroom.

She has embedded garments into shapes before, but the difference here was how incredibly compacted the pieces were. Kawakubo explained that she formed the shapes by pushing pieces together on a worktable; she adjusted the fit on a model. In fact, "crush" was her code word for the show. What's interesting is how the form of a garment say, a miniskirt or vest and its highly textured surface are one and the same.

In the show, hats were made of crushed cans and what looked like the remains of an enameled stove. Of course, artists like John Chamberlain have used scrap metal. Instead of being chaotic, the results were an intense concentration of pattern, mainly in cream, pale gold and black. A head-splitting drumbeat added to the effect.

As with Kawakubo, Junya Watanabe's women retain a sense of strength even in the kookiest outfits. Watanabe has riffed on all kinds of things: punk, pinstripes, denim. This time he took on sports fabrics, like mesh and nylon, mimicking standard athletic attire that is now part of everyday fashion (the tracksuit, hoodie, mesh jersey) while pushing them toward a more futuristic style and big-city palette, with curved insets that would please Hadid.

Single-mindedness usually serves Watanabe well, but the innovative use of almost banal fabrics helped recharge fashion's battery. About 20 percent of the fabrics were supplied by Puma, and will be produced as co-branded garments. With a parachute-soft nylon, Watanabe made semi-fitted jackets with rolled collars and fluted skirts. Backing zippered vents were pieces of neon mesh. Close all the zips on a silver-gray jacket and you not only kill the neon, but you also have a sweet corseted fit.

At one point in his show, Yohji Yamamoto sent out a bunch of models in commando khaki with caps and goggles. I have no idea what that was about, but if I saw most of his loose, broken-down dresses, a jumpsuit in rough navy tweed, and gauzy, tummy-baring sarong skirts at a summer music festival, I wouldn't be surprised. That's the cool, rowdy feeling.

Consciously or not, Haider Ackermann has embraced his inner diva and won't let go. He cast off some layers this time, and polka-dot chiffon helped lighten the dark palette and rather stiff-looking, wintry pantsuits. But the Ackermann theatrics seem lethargic as Paris fashion has energetically moved on.