As I happen across Phi and their Spring/Summer 2010 collection – something happens. I feel compelled to look – to click – to gaze in awe. My jaw slowly drops. Bondage straps? Lingerie-style boning? Fanlacing? Bodycon dresses, wrapped bandage pants, grommets, girdles? Love at first sight? I think so.
Founded in 2003 by Susan Dell (wife of Michael Dell of Dell Computers), Phi is a luxury brand that started off with a major advantage. Pronounced “fee,” the brand commanded a 10,000-square-foot showroom in New York, its own store after one season, and Norwegian designer Andreas Melbostad at the helm. Melbostad’s previous experience includes working at heavy hitters such as Guy Laroche, Yves Saint Laurent, and Donna Karan. At Phi, he favors reinvented eighties silhouettes and masculine tailoring.
“I feel I’m very influenced by the ’80s. To me it feels like a period when fashion was quite impactful, almost a little freer than it became in the ’90s, when it began to be more business-driven. The ’80s just had a lot of artistic sensibility. It seemed like a freer, more adventurous time,” the designer said in Interview Magazine.
Counting Bijou Phillips, Emmy Rossum, Padma Lakshmi among its Hollywood clientele, the brand is now struggling in the current economic climate. Its boutique in Soho is slated to close at the end of next month.
For the Spring 2010, Melbostad put a sophisticated twist on biker chic with a black and white palette that included slim leg suede pants that buckle and lace up the leg, strappy and banded brassiers and bustiers, as well as metal-encrusted jeans, studded blazers and a leather zipper jacket.
Oh Phi, where have you been all my life??
Edit 1/11: The label will no longer be produced and the pieces shown above will not even be manufactured. Pre-Spring 2010 was the brand’s last collection to be in stores. So sad!