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It’s Official: Phoebe Philo is Back

The legendary former creative director of Celine and Chloe will be launching a namesake label

( @phoebephilodiary // Instagram )

Since Phoebe Philo left her role as creative director at Celine (prior to the dropping of the accent mark), self-proclaimed “Philophiles,” who are among the designer’s most ardent supporters, found themselves reliving her 10-year reign of the Parisian fashion house through endless scrolls at the @oldceline handle on Instagram.

In her absence, nearly all traces of Philo at the label, with the exception of the iconic Luggage and Classic silhouettes, have been wiped clean by Hedi Slimane in favor of an unoriginal regurgitation of his time with Saint Laurent. News flash Hedi, it’s not 2013 anymore, and Harry Styles has officially retired his SLP Wyatts - but I digress.

The good news is that supporters, fashion editors, it-girls and the chicest of Parisian women can now rejoice. It was announced July 12 that the 48-year-old British designer will be launching an eponymous label under Bernard Arnault’s LVMH, which is the same parent company that owns her former employer.

The one sure thing is that Philo’s unrelenting influence over fashion and return to the industry will generate shockwaves throughout the entire fashion world.

Philo Prodigies Have Been Hard at Work. What Now?

Without Philo at the helm of a major fashion house for what is now going on four years, we’ve seen several designers step in, drawing influence from Philo’s design philosophy of curating an elevated minimalist aesthetic characterized by luxurious fabrics and timeless silhouettes.

Philophiles have found themselves turning toward labels like The Row, Jil Sander and Bottega Veneta, which has experienced its own massive overhaul carried out by Daniel Lee. Lee was one of the fashion prodigies who worked under Philo when she spearheaded Celine’s creative process.

Other Philo prodigies who’ve capitalized off of the aesthetic void caused by Philo’s absence include Peter Do and Rokh Hwang, who established their labels almost immediately after Philo departed from Celine. While these former Philo employees have proven their pedigree and talent in the fashion world, her return to the scene raises questions about how these designers will react and tailor their design processes in rebuttal. IMO - I think they’re likely happy to have the Queen back doing what she does best.

A Change of Tides in a Post-Pandemic Fashion World

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve witnessed a striking dichotomy in the fashion world. Several designers took this time to embrace maximalism and logomania to their fullest potential, undoubtedly demonstrated through collections from Virgil Abloh’s Louis Vuitton, as well as the Gucci x Balenciaga collab that came from Alessandro Michele’s “hack lab” earlier this year.

These over-the-top collections assisted in demonstrating what millions of people around the world were feeling during lockdown: a need to express themselves as freely and loudly as possible. This sentiment trickled from high-fashion down through mid-tier and even fast-fashion labels, seemingly penetrating influencer culture for all to see.

In the same breath, we witnessed the people who sought to strip away all complications from their lives. They shaved their heads, pared out their wardrobes and sought out simplicity during a time of turbulence. Label’s producing collections spoke to these needs, as seen through Jil Sander and The Row’s F/W 2021 collections.

Perhaps the latter is what we should be striving for. In seeking out classic silhouettes and high-quality fabrics, many have found the significance in building a wardrobe filled with staples rather than a logo-emblazoned closet overflowing with pieces that find themselves out of style by the following season, which feeds into the overconsumption we witness regularly in the fashion industry. But that’s another conversation for another article.

So, When the Hell Do We Get to See a Collection?

In an interview with the Business of Fashion, Philo declined to comment on when her namesake label would debut. However, she did say to look out for more details that will be coming in January 2022.

Philo will face a challenge as she navigates a post-pandemic reality that has largely shifted to online platforms. As it is well-known that she is largely anti-technology, she will be confronted with the task of launching a new label during a time where such online platforms are depended upon to achieve organic reach among followers.

However, Bottega’s departure from social media earlier this year could represent a glimmer of hope for Philo to write her own rules. Because, why would we expect anything less?


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