Phoebe Philo, the British designer turned fashion cult heroine for her smart and grown-up womenswear at French fashion house Celine, returns to the industry with a new brand next year.
After a three-year absence, Philo issued a statement announcing that his eponymous first brand would sell “clothing and accessories rooted in exceptional quality and design”.
The designer said she was “very excited to reconnect with my audience and people around the world.” Luxury giant LVMH is Philo’s backer, but owns a minority stake, an arrangement Philo pointed out in his statement, saying “being independent, governing and experimenting on my own terms is extremely important to me.” The brand is believed to be based in London, where Philo lives with his family.
Sixty years after Christian Dior revolutionized women’s clothing with its New Look, Phoebe Philo has done the same with the Female Gaze. Its high-end but sober Céline collections appeal to women concerned with design but who do not consider themselves decorative.
She pioneered the casting of older models in her shows and hired Joan Didion to star in an advertising campaign. Like any great fashion designer, she had the strange gift of tapping into emotion with her clothes.
Its oversized polo collars, long hems, sleazy silk shirts and quirky shoes seemed to characterize a new era of women dressing for themselves, instead of conforming to a vision of femininity rooted in patriarchal values. Seasonal trends have been largely ignored in favor of a cohesive and timeless wardrobe, and the long, loose silhouette Philo put on his Paris Fashion Week catwalks has rippled through stores around the world.
Her departure from Celine was hailed by her fashion enthusiasts as the loss of a spiritual leader – a fervor that was underscored when her successor, Hedi Slimane, unveiled a new take on the house that riffed on the retro codes of femininity. French bourgeois. Her name has been associated with all major fashion vacancies in recent years, including Chanel’s post following the death of Karl Lagerfeld.
Given the buzz surrounding Philo’s new venture, at a time when the fashion industry is on the hunt for a post-pandemic identity, its partnership with LVMH is a blow to the luxury giant.
Bernard Arnault, CEO of LVMH, said: “Phoebe Philo is one of the most talented designers of our time… I am very happy to join Phoebe in her entrepreneurial journey.