Philophiles assemble, for the day has finally come to pass; Phoebe Philo is back in fashion.
Since the cult English designer stepped down from the helm of Celine (called Céline during Philo’s decade-long tenure) in 2017, we’ve had a Philo-sized hole in our hearts; six years on and her eponymous, LVMH-backed brand is stitching it up.
As fashion doubles down on minimalism and “quiet luxury,” it’s a range that seems to marry simple, structured silhouettes with luxe materializations and louche embellishments. Imbued with the sumptuous simplicity she was known for at Celine, the unwavering sense of self and lightness she gleaned at Chloé and a disobedient, raw edge, a sophisticated, confident and high octane campaign fronted by Daria Werbowy – Philo’s muse (often referred to as her “doppelgänger”) – accompanies the collection.
To commemorate this oh-so-glorious day, we’ve compiled 10 of Phoebe Philo’s most memorable moments at the helms of both Celine and Chloé. From churning out game-changing collections to starting a style era, this is the opus of a fashion genius. Its sensual, austere and achingly, achingly cool. Feast your eyes.
PHOEBE PHILO AND STELLA MCCARTNEY ON THE COVER OF ‘POP MAGAZINE’
You can almost imagine it; Phoebe Philo and Stella McCartney, sitting together in the Central Saint Martins canteen, heads together, visions bursting at the seams and shooting looks across the room that scream ‘No, you can’t sit with us’. The ultimate cool girls, they both graduated from CSM in the later 90s and soon after appeared side-by-side on the cover of Pop Magazine’s first ever issue in 2000.
Oozing with Y2K goodness, the subtly seductive photos show McCartney and Philo wrapped around red stripper poles, staring back at the reader with a look that certainly says, “I’m not going anywhere”. Olivia Barrett
THE ‘IT’ BAG ERA
2008 to 2018 was an incredibly transformative chapter for Philo who was heading up Celine at the time. By creating of a series of iconic handbags including the Luggage Tote, the Trapeze and the Classic Box Bag, she was catapulted to the forefront of fashion, stealing the hearts and hanging from the arms of style enthusiasts and celebrities alike. The bags weren’t just a status symbol, they completely redefined the essence of luxury.
With an approach characterised by clean lines, understated elegance and practicality, they were the embodiment of less is more. Yet, the Luggage tote – one of her earliest creations – became the harbinger of a whole new era with its unique shape quickly proving it to be a statement piece in the sphere of accessories. Philo didn’t intend to make an ‘It’ bag, let alone three, but her take on handbags would come house-hold symbols of refined taste and understated opulence. Charlotte Swindells
The early 2010s were TOWIE, they were Made in Chelsea, they were nude platform heels from Topshop… but while you were sporting skinny jeans and gem-encrusted Jeffrey Campbell’s, Philo saw the ‘booties’ on your feet and raised you one with the release of her Celine Birkenstocks. Mink, jewels, comfort and style, Phoebe Philo really did show us that in fact, we can have it all.
Lined with onyx and tomato red mink, the Birkenstocks, which comfortably slumped down the SS13 Celine runway, were drooled over by the whole high-heeled front row. It was out with the sky-high wedges and in with the ‘furkenstock’. Linking luxury fashion with Philo-approved comfort, the Celine Birkenstock played devil’s advocate to fashion’s favourite saying, ‘Beauty is Pain’.
The ease to be found in their wearability though, unfortunately doesn’t extend to securing a pair. Currently listed for £2800, the black mink and jewel encrusted Birkenstocks stare back at you from E-Bay and Vestiaire, teasing you with their cosiness and laughing at your ballet pumps as they butcher your ankles. Philo wrote of the range: ‘I guess Ms. Philo didn’t feel like getting dressed. Seriously, though, who wouldn’t be tempted to throw a big housewife yawn at all the noir-satin looks on the runways? Who wouldn’t want to wear furry slippers all day?’. Once again, Philo showed that anything we can do, she can do better. OB & CS
Marking a return to minimalism, Philo’s autumn/winter 2010 Celine collection showcased a muted colour palette. A stark departure from the excess of the previous decade, Philo understood that less could indeed be more. The collection allowed women to feel confident without the need for ostentatious embellishments or opulent fabrics and became a uniform for women who aspire to be strong, independent and sophisticated. Her creative vision took the industry by storm, setting a new standard for a simple yet powerful design language. CS
THE CELINE EFFECT
In 2010, Philo, rather unknowingly, instigated the ‘Celine Effect’ – a fashion phenomenon where her designs heavily influenced other designers and the high street through an aesthetic defined by clean lines, neutral tones and a certain chicness that’s maintained through simplicity.
That’s because Philo’s SS11 collection for the French house proved to be a turning point in 2010s fashion. The collection – which featured just 35 looks – showed that in its basic presentation, it was about paring everything back, removing the extravagance and focusing on the clean construction without impeding on variety.
Featuring tunics, buttery leather pencil skirts and dresses with quiet sex appeal, Philo’s SS11 offering proposed the perfect capsule for the modern woman – a woman that could break into run for the bus, and command a boardroom of men. It’d be remiss not to note, as well, the distinct lack of bags. Philo’s vision of the Celine woman had pockets – real pockets – for hands, keys and everything in-between. OB
In 2004, Philo sent parade blending of bohemian and romantic elements with glowing fabrics, delicate lace and a soft colour palette down the Chloé catwalk. The wearable and versatile designs made them popular amongst women who sought both style and comfort while maintaining a carefree sense of luxury. One specific item that garnered immense popularity amid the masses were the ‘pleated wide leg trousers’. A defining piece in the collection, they embodied the blasé-chic aesthetic that became hallmark to Philo’s designs. CS
THE CELINE SCARF-PRINT SHIRT
Perhaps one of the most memorable pieces designed by Philo during her time at Celine was the scarf-print shirt (also from Phoebe Philo’s Spring 2011 collection). Though she never went after celebrities while she was Maison, the endless Instagram posts made by rappers donning the eye-catching top – Travis Scott for example – gave global exposure to the garment. Disgraced rapper Kanye West famously performed in one of the collection’s shirts at Coachella in 2011, the same year he launched his own eponymous label. OB
JOAN DIDION FOR CELINE’S SS15 EYEWEAR CAMPAIGN
Philo’s Celine brought out the big guns with regards to the concept of the ‘cool girl’ when it chose lauded American literary royalty Joan Didion to star in its SS15 eyewear campaign. Looking achingly chic and stoic as always through the lens of Juergen Teller, Didion, who was 80 at the time, became the embodiment of what it meant to be a Phoebe Philo Celine women dressed in all black, with a gold medallion necklace and chunky black shades.
Didion, whose oft-quoted Packing List – featured in The White Album essay collection – illustrated the writer’s dedication to her “uniform”, calling for “two skirts”, “two jerseys or leotards”, a “bottle of bourbon” and a “pack of cigarettes”, is cut from the same cloth as the vision Philo had for Celine. The designer, adamant in her own uniform, explored that ethos, placing an emphasis on capsule dressing across her Celine collections. OB
PHILO’S YVES KLEIN INFLUENCES
The Celine woman is intellectual, she hangs her degree in her bathroom, and she has a Tate membership. She absolutely would’ve recognised the Yves Klein reference in Phoebe Philo’s SS17 Celine collection.
The offering featured lashings of Klein Blue and two dresses that looked as though French artist’s iconic piece Anthropometry of the Blue Period (1960) had grown legs, brown hair and found itself on a runway in Paris. Philo’s Celine was already considered wearable art anyway, but her involvement with Yves Klein really showed just how intricate and considered her references were. OB
THE REVIVAL OF THE STAN SMITH
Like she did for the New Balance 620s and for Nike Air Max, Philo is often credited with single handedly sparking a full-blown revival of the Adidas Stan Smith. To take her bow after the autumn/winter 2011 show she wore the crisp, white trainers with a fine knit turtle neck and pair of sleek tailored trousers, making women around the world question everything they thought knew about footwear. Enter, the era of the trainer. Philo’s influence on the Stan Smith trainer is a testament to her ability to elevate and redefine the most iconic pieces in the fashion world.
Top image: courtesy of Phoebe Philo.