It's the rumor we've all tried to debunk, stave off, pretend couldn't possibly be real; the news that no one wants to write, nor admit. But, as confirmed by WWD on Friday, the unfortunate truth that Phoebe Philo would exit Céline has finally come. After 10 years at the French label — an eternity in fashion — the British designer bids au revoir to her legacy. Her last collection will be presented at Paris Fashion Week in March, for fall 2018.
"Working with Céline has been an exceptional experience for me these last 10 years," she wrote in a statement obtained by WWD. "I am grateful to have worked with an incredibly talented and committed team and I would like to thank everyone along the way who has been part of the collaborations and conversations… it’s been amazing." Rumors of Philo's exit have reverberated, season to season, leading the industry to ask not if it would happen, rather when. It doesn't make today's news any less of a shock.
LVMH chief executive Bernard Arnault echoed her departing words. "What Phoebe has accomplished over the past ten years represents a key chapter in the history of Céline. We are very grateful to Phoebe for having contributed to the great momentum of this Maison. A new era of development for Céline will now start and I am extremely confident in the future success of this iconic Maison.” As for what's next remains unclear, but a source familiar with the matter claims Philo will not work for another label; her successor is to be named in the coming months.
Philo leaves behind a unique and unparalleled legacy. In 1997, Philo moved to Paris from London (where she attended Central Saint Martins) to join Stella McCartney at Chloé, eventually taking over as creative director in 2001. Just a few years later, she was awarded British Designer of the Year by the British Fashion Council. After taking a two-year leave from the industry to raise her second child, Philo came back, assuming the top role at Céline, in 2008.
Her reclusion from the pomp and circumstance of the industry (and e-commerce, until earlier this year) carried over to her designs, where her taste for demure and classic ready-to-wear saw its own fashion cult within the industry, with the sales to back it up. The jury's still out on how exactly the fashion house will change under new direction, but whoever takes over has incredibly influential, infinitely chic Stan Smiths to fill.