I don’t usually write about women’s fashion, nor do I personally wear anything that remotely resembles what Phoebe Philo’s Céline strived to be. In fact, Hedi Slimane, my favorite designer, replaced Philo after 10 years and is currently at the helm of Celine. This change of position has undoubtedly caused a significant amount of unrest with Philophiles due to Slimane’s history of reviving the heroin-chic aesthetic at Saint Laurent. However, I have always been intrigued, and at times, delighted by Céline’s creations and, most of all, Philo’s vision for Céline and the modern woman.
We start by examining what all brands that I love have in common: evasion of the use of big logos. There was a time where everything was loud and conspicuous, the very idea that a brand must broadcast the extrinsic value of an item to all those in its presence. Céline was certainly loud, earth-shattering even, but in the wearer’s confidence, not price. The overall silhouettes were always enigmatic in the sense that they were never conventional. You didn’t see a “normal” coat or pair of pants, you saw them as the unconventional, slightly off alternative, in the best way possible. Of course, it was unconventional to the pedestrians and the conservatives, but it was exactly what made Céline shine, much to the likes of Maison Margiela and Helmut Lang. The understanding of a look that came down the runway required a different kind of thinking from the norm, different from that of buying a designer belt or a logo tee. Already at first glance, the fluidity of a coat or the sheer grace of a Sac Belt forced you to think through a new approach that challenged the norm. I was intrigued.
The silhouettes that Philo sent down the runways season after season were not mere representations of what is going to be the “it” for now, or even later, but a cohesive contribution to the serene projection of Philo’s vision: her idea of artistic representation and the seamless bond between comfort and liberal structure. There was an unwavering will and an affectionate sincerity in expressing the poetic nature of beauty itself that was inimitable. The Céline woman was an overwhelming force of sophisticated individualism who chose to be distinguished.
For alternatives of Phoebe Philo’s Céline, it’s helpful to consult brands like Haider Ackermann, Isabel Marant, Maison Margiela, Dries Van Noten, Helmut Lang, Balenciaga, Acne Studios, A.P.C., and Theory for fragments of Céline can be found in selective parts.
COVER PHOTO: ABC-Luxe