Céline springs/summer 18. Photography Mitchell Sams

is phoebe philo leaving céline?

Her alleged departure would undoubtedly spark a game of creative director musical chairs.

by Steve Salter
17 October 2017, 11:43am

Céline springs/summer 18. Photography Mitchell Sams

Countless rumours about creative directors were whispered as the fashion set waited for spring/summer 18 shows (or shouted across fashion dinner tables after one too many glasses of champagne) and while the potential ins and outs at Louis Vuitton, Dior, Loewe and Versace were all discussed, Phoebe Philo's future was rarely mentioned over the last few weeks. The industry does love a good gossip but the forever elegant Céline was above all of the talk this season.

Throughout her nine-year tenure at the house, this crafter and curator of chic has continually redefined what women wear and dream of wearing. It's true that after a number of industry-defining years, the house's growth has slowed but her spring/summer 18 show felt like Phoebe Philo's Céline at its brilliant best. So, after this morning's BoF exclusive blasted the sleep from our eyes, we're left with many unexpected and unanswered questions. Is it true? Where will she go? Who will replace her? Who's next to leave their house?

In 2015 you might recall that there were a number of features on other style sites which questioned her future and examined her legacy. Then nothing happened. This feels different, there appears to be something happening. "We categorically deny any imminent departure of Phoebe Philo from Céline," an LVMH spokesperson explained to BoF. Now, the industry's go-to business new site isn't known for sensationalism, so despite LVMH denying the news that Philo's departure is imminent, there could well be some truth here. The piece itself quotes multiple sources and one anonymous voice explained that "the interviews have been going on for a few months now." If you believe in the "there's no smoke without fire" adage, Philo's spring/summer 18 collection itself might just add more fuel to the embers. "I wanted to be optimistic," Philo explained, post-show. "It felt personal to me. I felt like celebrating. If there is anything to say at the moment, let it be with love. Let it be joyful." The collection was a celebration of Céline's craftsmanship and the fluidity of movement. It was joyful. It was chic. It was Céline. It was Phoebe Philo. Was it the perfect farewell? Her post-show comments might well have hinted at the move. "I was interested in the 70s Céline woman. The idea of that woman is one of the reasons why I wanted to work at Céline." However, despite reminding herself of who that woman was by returning to advertisements from that decade, this was far from That 70s Show. The woman has shapeshifted under Philo, she belongs to the here-and-now.

So, if these reports are true, who will replace her? BoF themselves have offered a couple of candidates in current Ports 1961 creative director (and former Stella McCartney design director) Natasa Cagalj and Victoria Beckham design director Ilaria Icardi. And after almost ten years at Céline, where should Philo move next? Given her tasteful renovation of the 70-year-old luxury label, we'd be surprised if LVMH allowed her talent to slip through their grasp. We could see her at a number of Paris-based luxury houses. Whatever happens, the next game of creative director musical chairs is close because let's not forget that while the current crop sit in their seats, both Riccardo Tisci and Hedi Slimane are still waiting to make a house a home. What do you think? Who should go where? Join the discussion below.

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Phoebe Philo