Words by Nicole Thomsen
April 13th, 2018
When Phoebe Philo announced that she would be stepping down from her position as Creative Director of Céline, she left her legions of fans bereft. You see, Philo designs clothing for women. Despite the many womenswear designers in the industry, there are few that this can also be said about. At Céline, Philo made clothing that made women feel empowered. Clothing that you can wear every day and still feel special. It was minimalistic and refined yet no less impactful.
Of course, change in the fashion industry is inherent, and more often than not we’re seeing designers chop and change from one house to the next but this particular exit feels more like a loss than any other. Phoebe Philo transformed Céline into the powerhouse that it is today, creating a label that changed the way women dressed. Few can rival her ability to transcend trends and manage to create a collection of covetable wardrobe staples season after season.
Perhaps Hedi Slimane, Philo’s successor, will offer more of the same in a bid to placate loyal Philophiles, however, his time at Saint Laurent suggests otherwise. In his short tenure, he controversially renamed the fashion house (dropping “Yves”) and introduced a commercially successful grunge aesthetic often labelled as “heroin chic”. His penchant for slim fitting clothing is a paradox of Philo’s oversized disposition.
Though we still have one more collectionleft to look forward to – her final collection will begin to arrive in stores in June – it’s worth considering now which labels can fill and potentially nurture the Philo-shaped hole that will undoubtedly be left in our wardrobes.
During Philo’s 10-year reign, Céline became the go-to for the “working woman”; the professional who has an eye for clean lines, unfussy tailoring and quiet statements. Though her collections are more trend-driven than Philo’s, Victoria Beckham is in tune with Philo when it comes to dressing women. She too understands the power of a well-cut blazer and tailored trousers. Her accessories, in particular, are close in nature to the sleek and refined styles related to Céline.
As a former protégé of Phoebe Philo, Rok Hwang’s debut label Rokh naturally permeates a similar aesthetic to Céline with loose-fitting tailoring and deconstructed garments in a neutral colour palette. Designed with a timeless sensibility, Rokh provides a unique take on classic staples.
Rejina Pyo shares Phoebe Philo’s affinity for oversized, free-flowing attire. Her designs have the ability to make the wearer feel special and empowered in the same way Céline does but at a slightly lower price point. If you are looking for a designer to lead you on a similar path as Philo, Rejina Pyo is one to follow.
Could the maestro herself be set to launch her own label? Rumours were rife that Philo was set to join Burberry when the news that she was leaving Céline broke late last year but Riccardo Tisci falsified those rumours when he announced that he would be Burberry’s new Creative Director. Given that there is still no official news of Philo’s next move, is it possible that she is working on her own namesake line? That is perhaps a pipe dream but one we’ll keep our fingers crossed for.
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