Have you checked your inbox today? Phoebe Philo is calling. An enigmatic message from the designer is nothing new, but it’s always enough to flip the Internet on its head and gather all the self-described Philophiles like it was Versailles circa 1789.
Despite having stepped out of the limelight years ago, Philo remains one of the most talked about designers – and for good reasons, she knows what she’s doing. The British-born designer first started climbing the industry’s ladder during her time at Chloé where she started in 1997 under the helm of Central Saint Martins fellow alumni and friend Stella McCartney, before taking over as Creative Director in 2001.
At Chloé, Philo redefined the modern woman’s wardrobe by distilling her collections’ practicality and functionality infused with inspirations from ‘70s British styles. She introduced the Paris Hilton-approved iconic Paddington bag, which to this day remains one of the House’s bestsellers.
Things couldn’t be better for Philo, who opened up Chloé to a wider and younger audience thanks to the introduction of babydoll dresses and wooden wedge shoes that fronted the revival of the bohemian aesthetic. By 2006, she had garnered a worldwide audience that was unequivocally devoted to her, but her own devotion lay elsewhere: her family. That very year Philo became the first female Creative Director to step down from the role for maternity leave. Truly, she is a pioneer, leader, role model and, most simply put, an icon.
But as most of you already know, that wasn’t the end-all be-all for Philo. The industry and Philo fans alike wanted more, and it so happens that Philo also wanted more. Two years after stepping down from Chloé, Philo made her grand return via Céline (now rebranded CELINE but to satisfy our nostalgia and honour the era, it will be referred to with the accent).
Though because this is Philo, the return wasn’t an easy-done deal. Negotiations between herself and the LVMH conglomerate went back-and-forth until both parties agreed on a settlement: Philo would work from London most of the year to be close to her family but would travel to Paris to show her collections during Fashion Week.
If the fire of Philo-adornment started at Chloé, it was blown up by highly-flammable fuel at Céline. For the decade she worked at the brand, Philo gave us minimalist functionality, further influenced by the fact that she was now a mother and a working woman.
She had all the endorsements one could ask for, from Kanye West shoutout in Dark Fantasy to a Kim Kardashian and Olsen twins-approved Trapèze bag, and ultimately, the grailed Instagram page @oldceline. Phoebe Philo was the queen bee of fashion, and us the loyal beehive members that lived to serve her. That is until 2018 when Philo announced her departure from the brand, again, to focus on her family, and went dark on us.
Then came the announcement of July 2021: Phoebe Philo was making her comeback with her own eponymous brand backed by LVMH. All hell broke loose or to put it more colloquially, the Philophiles lost their sh*t. But unlike what we would have all wanted, the comeback wouldn’t be straightforward. In fact it’s been two years since the announcement and we still haven’t seen a single garment from her.
After a series of cryptic hints, industry whispers and Internet rumours, the @phoebephilo Instagram was made public in February of this year with a single (now deleted) post with a loud and clear message: “Our inaugural collection will be revealed and available on our website, phoebephilo.com, in September 2023. We will be opening for registration in July 2023 and look forward to being in touch then.”
Now less than 24 hours away from September 2023 officially ending, and a lack of communication from the brand, it’s clear that Philo isn’t quite ready to return. And honestly, fair enough. A return as anticipated as Philo’s is going to take time.
Philophiles don’t fret though, as today is a day to rejoice. Those who did register on the website’s mailing list received yet another cryptic message: an email that contained a curated slideshow of images superimposed with a red-written serif PHOEBE PHILO branding, the address to the brand’s London headquarters and a subject line that simply read “30 October 2023.”
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