Philophiles worldwide get ready, mother is coming back. It’s been five years since we’ve seen a Phoebe Philo original, with CELINE’s Pre-Fall 2018 collection, back when it was still ‘Céline’, and two years now since the designer took to her Instagram to announce the beginning of her eponymous brand. Her return, which is set to take place during the upcoming Fashion Week in September, and the Philophiles are literally foaming at the mouth in anticipation (myself included).
Let’s reel it back a second because if you’re not familiar with Phoebe Philo’s work then you don’t understand the excitement here. Philo took an interest in fashion from an early age and decided to attend the prestigious Central Saint Martins university in London where she met Stella McCartney. It would be McCartney who would give Philo her first real job in fashion just a few years later when she held the position of creative director at Chloé and enlisted Philo as her first design assistant.
Philo quite literally exceeded the job spec because four years later in 2001, she took over as creative director – and no guys, there is no beef there. Even McCartney had to give it up to Philo and her unmatched approach to design. During her time at Chloé, Philo brought in some pretty iconic pieces – like the Paddington bag famously worn by Paris Hilton – but what really made the designer stand out was that she understood how women, real, working women, wanted and needed to be dressed.
It was a practical take on luxury, an effortless femininity and a dig into the 70s styles that defined British fashion – essentially, a Chloé by Phoebe Philo piece was what women would fight over if it was the last one available in store. While her success was already globally recognized, Philo stepped down from the role on maternity leave in 2006, and get this, she is the first woman to ever do that. Philo an unironic girlboss? Yeah, we think so.
But as you probably know now, that wasn’t the end of the road for Philo who was invited by LVMH to take on the creative director role at Céline (for old times sake, we’re bringing back the accent). She would stay at Céline for 10 years and during that decade, Philo became the epitome of the minimalist designer. She often preferred timeless pieces, a muted colour-palette, again delivering it bags that sold big time (the Trapèze bag specifically is both Kim Kardashian and Olsen twins-endorsed), and now more than ever with herself being a mother, an understanding of the needs and wants of a woman when dressing herself (yes, she needs pockets on her trousers).
At Céline, Philo gave us so many iconic pieces that some of your favourite celebs have definitely worn, runway shows and campaigns that gave a real-life quality to luxury. When Philo left the brand, and essentially the fashion industry, in 2018 to focus on her family, we totally got it but the departure could be felt. Fashion was missing one of its core present-day trendsetters and Philophiles were left without a subject to idolise.
That was until 2021, when the Phoebe Philo brand was announced, once owned by LVMH but entirely ran by Phoebe herself, at least creatively through the designer’s Instagram in a now-deleted post – minimalists, you know how they are. And that’s about everything we know.
In terms of what to expect from the brand, it’s going to be minimalist, obviously but let’s dig deeper. Philo was so influential in the 2010s as she became the main driver behind the boho aesthetic that mixed the styles of Woodstock ‘69 attendees and the modern-day urban woman. While that aesthetic was in full force back then, it’s obviously died down, as everything in fashion eventually does. So will Philo bring back wooden, studded clogs? Will we be swapping out our jorts for slip dresses?
Philo’s work has always been connected to her own life, being influenced by motherhood once she herself became a mother, it’ll be interesting to see where Philo is at in her life, after having taken a five year family leave. What does the Philo woman want? What does she need? Well, all we can really do is sit back and wait for that September show. In the meantime, you’ll find us in the archives.
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