Since that fateful day in 2017 when she presented her final collection at the helm of Celine, Phoebe Philo has seemingly withdrawn from fashion’s spotlight. But the purveyor of modern womenswear is back in a major way this year, releasing her own namesake label to mass delight.
The impact Philo had on women’s dressing during her time heading up the French Maison cannot be overstated, and her absence has left an insatiable appetite for any and all pieces from her tenures at both Celine and, previously, Chloé. Five years ago, when she announced her departure from Celine, it was reported that Philo was set to launch her own independent label, however, nothing but rumours were heard until 2021, when she officially announced her intentions. Naturally, fans were roused in a frenzy over what the British designer could have in store for us. Only, the wait was indefinite, as even the initial January 2022 release came and went with no news from Philo. Finally, she revealed on Instagram that her namesake label was indeed coming in September 2023.
“Inaugural collection will be revealed and available on our website, phoebephilo.com, in September 2023,” she wrote in a statement.
“We’ll be opening for registration in July 2023 and look forward to being back in touch then.”
While it didn’t reveal much, other than the fact that she’d be creating “clothing and accessories rooted in exceptional quality and design,” the wording suggested that the designer may be working on a see-now-buy-now collection rather than showing during September’s fashion week calendar.
But in some joyous news, Philo has revealed some more exciting details about when exactly we can expect to see the project go live. As reported by WWD, the first Phoebe Philo collection will include 150 styles, all to be made available to buy from a dedicated online store that will ship to the UK, US and Europe. The outlet also reports that Canadian-Ukrainian model Daria Werbowy, a staple of Philo’s Celine era, will emerge out of retirement to be the face of the brand. How special.
Though the brand will be largely independent, there is a minority backing from luxury powerhouse LVMH.
Philo added that she was excited to be back working on fashion collections independently and reconnecting with her loyal fans. “Being in my studio and making once again has been both exciting and incredibly fulfilling,” she said. “I am very much looking forward to being back in touch with my audience and people everywhere. To be independent, to govern and experiment on my own terms is hugely significant to me.”
“I have had a very constructive and creative working relationship with LVMH for many years,” she explained of the partnership. “So it is a natural progression for us to reconnect on this new project. I have greatly appreciated discussing new ideas with Bernard Arnault and Delphine Arnault, and I am delighted to be embarking on this adventure with their support.”
The Paris-born, London-based designer began her career at Central Saint Martins, where she befriended fellow student Stella McCartney. Philo worked under McCartney when succeeded Karl Lagerfeld at Chloé, and when McCartney left to launch her namesake label in 2001, a 28-year-old Philo stepped into the creative director position. With big shoes to fill, the designer not only established herself as a great talent in fashion but pioneered the boho-glam aesthetic that defined much of the noughties. Think Grecian-style chiffon dresses, high-waisted denim, multiple cult-status accessories (including the Chloé Paddington bag), and prairie-style silhouettes given a modern functionality. The brand was catapulted into a new spotlight, with Philo’s work increasing Chloé’s global sales by 60 per cent.
But of course, it was at Celine, where she took over in 2008, that Philo solidified her status as a fashion god, reviving the languishing French heritage brand with a culture-altering new look. Defined by Philo as “contemporary minimalism” at her debut show, her collections went on to define the look of the mid-2010s, inspiring the likes of the Olsen twins’ The Row, Elin Kling’s Totême, and Catherine Holstein’s Khaite. Through simple tailoring made impeccably well, masculine hues and polished accessories, Philo’s vibe shift struck a chord with a generation of working women who didn’t feel served by the impractical fashions and excess of the early ’00s.
In 2023, we have her pupils creating work that fills the gaping hole she left in the industry, but her pieces from Celine and Chloé are still highly-coveted, with the Instagram page @OldCeline keeping the fanfare alive.