The collective gasps of fashion insiders were audible when, in July 2021, the elusive Phoebe Philo shared she would soon put her name on an independent clothing and accessories line. It happened almost six years after the beloved designer departed Celine, the LVMH brand she helped transform into one of the world’s most influential thanks to her freehand approach unbound by signatures or constraints. She perfected that style at the Parisian house Chloé, where she shrugged off convention and leaned into uncomplicated looks in pursuit of liberating the modern woman. Maintaining that freedom was vital—and cultivated a mythos propelled by an obsessive following of “Philophiles”—but fronting a brand wore on her.
Now, two prolonged years after news of her namesake label arrived, its hotly anticipated debut is finally here. As her acolytes predicted, Philo is letting the work speak for itself—she declined all interviews, refused a runway show, eschewed advertising, and only invited select editors for a preview. She organized her brand around the wardrobe: “a seasonless, continuous body of work,” per a quick press note, which translates to a cohesive collection with a distinct point of view that one can continue building on as styles evolve. The intial collection, called A1, comprises an edit of 150 pieces; a second will follow in the spring.
The clothes themselves carve a path forward from an unusual time some are calling the “Recessionary Twenties,” especially as return-to-office picks up steam. There’s a look for just about every occasion—an ivory silk satin dress with built-in bodysuit, high-waisted wool trousers with a provocative zipper up the back of each leg, an army-inspired olive-brown coat and matching baggy pants, and voluminous black leather jackets that are as bold as they are original. Almost every style lacks ornament, but one would be remiss to deem this “quiet luxury.” The message is loud and clear: Phoebe Philo is back and ready to build up her vision of the modern woman without interference. (And just a little help from LVMH, of course.)