Photo: Salvatore Ferragamo
In the last 10 years, more and more fashion designers have emerged. Yet, fewer and fewer have been designing for real women – women who are not young or striving to be young, who do not want to be hipsters or fashion influencers, and who aren’t celebrities or the good-looking offspring of celebrities (these women probably make up just a third of the world’s population).
That’s why Phoebe Philo’s 10-year tenure at Celine was a milestone. She made an impact like Coco Chanel and Jeanne Lanvin did in the 1920s, Gaby Aghion for Chloe in the ’50s, and Donna Karan in the ’80s. Philo didn’t just turn things around for the French brand; she championed the real woman with a practical yet intellectual sensibility that empowered her, and spoke to and for her. As Tim Blanks of BOF puts in succinctly, she is “a designer who knows what women want”.
Now that Hedi Slimane is the kingpin at Celine, that legacy will not continue (he has respect for Philo, but he’s there to do his own thing). Which is fine, because Philo’s work for real women continues with her followers and believers – “Philophile” fashion designers who are not doing exactly what she did, but are offering exactly what she believed in: wardrobes for strong, independent, modern women – never skin-tight, never for showing off, always practical, always flattering, always womanly.
This story was first published in the October 2018 issue of Her World.