The fashion week gossip has begun: it’s rumored (though as of yet unconfirmed) that Phoebe Philo is going to step down from Céline, a house that was largely defunct before she became its creative director in 2008.
A moment for the contributions that have characterized the previous eight years in fashion trends:
+A leather handbag that looks a lot like a mini-tote and even manipulated some shoppers into spending ~$1800 on a neon pink version
+Another one that looks like a trapezoid
+Huge pants that covertly obstruct the female form but never compromise her ability to wear flat shoes
+Chunky gold accessories
The gossip continues, suggesting that Philo’s ostensible decision to leave Céline is largely contingent on her assuming a comparable role at Alaïa. Commentators seem by and large confused by the transition — if she’s leaving Céline for a reason similar to the one that provoked her 2006 exit from Chloé: to spend more time with her family, how will Alaïa reconcile her pursuit of a work/life balance?
But Mr. Alaïa is known quite famously as a designer who sets his own pace, operating to the ticks of his own calendar, often waiting until several days after fashion month to show his collections in intimate settings that don’t encourage much fanfare. Philo was known to withhold photographic proof of pre-season collections, and my guess is that if she’d had it her way, those looks would never leak. As far as I can tell, if you’re looking to peruse the recent work of Mr. Alaïa, you’ve got to look really hard, so strategically speaking, the partnership sounds reasonable — serendipitous, even.
Curious to me, though, is how Philo will translate her aesthetic — no doubt a look that has changed and subsequently defined the fashion zeitgeist, calling not for hassle-backed clothes and instead for luxury that women with lives that extend beyond gala season can and do live in — to Alaïa, a house built on celebrating the female form in a way that is far less perverse and subversive. What happens to all those body-con dresses and bustier belts? Can they weather a Phoebequake?
We shall see.