Phoebe Philo’s Return to Fashion Is Almost Here
Ahead of the launch of Philo's namesake brand on October 30, here's a look back at some of her most memorable fashion moments at Celine.
This article was originally published in July 2021 and has been updated.
Celine fans rejoice — former creative director Phoebe Philo’s long-awaited comeback is around the corner. More than two years after announcing that she’d be launching a clothing and accessories label under her own name, Philo’s eponymous (and mysterious) brand is set to be unveiled on October 30. And for Philophiles, the debut can’t come soon enough.
After parting ways with Celine in late 2017, Philo took a three-year hiatus prior to announcing her own label, which will have a minority backing from French luxury group LVMH (who also owns Celine).
“Being in my studio and making once again has been both exciting and incredibly fulfilling,” said Philo in a short statement shared with The Business of Fashion in 2021. “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.”
At the time, Philo didn’t reveal when her new label would debut, but did mention that more details would be made available soon. That time came in July when a brief message on her website invited shoppers to register for a mailing list. Philo loyalists expected a September release, perhaps coinciding with Paris Fashion Week, yet when the Spring 2024 calendar was released, Philo’s name was nowhere to be found. And despite being a no-show, Philo was arguably the most talked about designer at PFW.
At long last, in the final days of Paris Fashion Week, Philo announced to her website subscribers that her namesake brand would be revealed on October 30. What will the clothes look like? Will there be some kind of presentation or just a drop on Philo’s website? Both mysteries, still.
With financial support from the most prominent luxury fashion corporation, LVMH no doubt sees the power and potential of a Phoebe Philo brand, and it’s no surprise why. Few designers have had a more significant impact on modern-day fashion: Philo turned Celine into a must-have brand during her tenure, introducing a streamlined wardrobe of effortless classics and refined sportswear.
A favourite among the fashion elite, Philo pioneered the minimalist design aesthetic that ruled the early 2010s and cancelled the overtly sexy looks that defined the previous decade. Philo subverted the male gaze in her collections and empowered the women wearing them. Yes, her new brand of sexy included slip dresses and short leather skirts, but it also included thick wool coats and turtlenecks — showing skin didn’t make the outfit alluring, the woman wearing it did.
Dearly missed by her fans and the fashion industry as a whole, Philo’s return to fashion has long been a topic of interest. Soon after the designer left Celine in late 2017, the Instagram account @oldceline started gaining traction, its content devoured by Philo’s devotees, known as the “Philophiles.” Since she was replaced by Hedi Slimane at Celine, the label has adopted a very different aesthetic. After a rocky debut of almost exclusively black party dresses, Slimane’s latest inspiration has been the brand’s bourgeois aesthetic of the ’70s. As Celine has ventured into new design territory, Philophiles have been waiting for a brand that would act as a worthy replacement. While some retailers gambled on other minimalist labels such as The Row and Jil Sander taking Celine’s place, no brand has had quite the same impact on Celine stans.
While it’s easy to wish for a Celine 2.0, Philo is not one to repeat herself. During her five years at Chloé in the early 2000s, her vision became synonymous with “boho chic.” The baby doll dresses, wooden wedges and banana print that stormed the Chloé runways were a far cry from the elevated classics she later presented when she arrived at Celine, but her time at the helm of both fashion houses makes one thing clear: Philo knows how to deliver for the present moment.
While we anxiously await the launch of the new Phoebe Philo brand, here’s a look back at some of the designer’s best fashion moments at Celine.