If I were a glass-half-empty kind of person, I would say that when Phoebe Philo departed from Céline two years ago, she left behind a void where before there was a rare breed of quietly powerful style. A black hole that was once filled with the comfort of knowing there was someone out there creating clothes that made women feel stronger and more understood.
But! I can’t help myself. I’m glass-half-full all the way, baby. So I wouldn’t say any of that. Instead I would tell you she left behind an opportunity. An expansive field of fertile soil. An open door, ready and waiting to be walked through—and there are a handful of exciting up-and-coming brands that did exactly that. Brands that are, in my mind, carrying on the Philo spirit. Not by literally replicating it, but rather by making clothes that speak volumes without shouting, and exude effortless simplicity without being boring. Scroll down for five emerging brands to know if you have an old Céline-shaped hole in your heart.
Le 17 Septembre hails from Korea, where designer and founder Eunhye Shin resides. I haven’t been this excited about an under-the-radar brand discovery in a long time. I’m partial to any designer who can tempt me to toss my affinity for patterns out the window and deck myself out in a sumptuous array of neutrals for the rest of my days simply because the case they are making is that convincing. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it feels significant. The way Shin plays with texture (ribbed knits, crinkled dresses, shirts folded like origami) within the bounds of simplicity is very Philo-adjacent, as is her apparent ability to make black pants look like a revelation. A small selection of pieces recently became available on Net-a-Porter. Here’s hoping there’s more to come, but in the meantime, I’m eyeing this and this.
Sonia Carrasco worked as a fashion designer at Céline before launching her eponymous brand, which explains why the label successfully embodies aspects of Philo’s aesthetic proclivities–think easy elegance, sharp tailoring intermixed with liquid movement, and rich earth tones. After leaving Céline, Carrasco spent months researching the fashion industry’s impact on the planet and possible solutions to its worst offenses. Her brand works exclusively with 100% natural fabrics and materials, and each piece is made to order in small local factories in Barcelona. The website’s e-commerce function isn’t fully up and running yet, but I’m keeping watch.
And Comfort is dedicated to making timeless, season-less clothes in sizes 10-28. The result is a very Old Céline-esque capsule collection–think Phoebe Philo basics at their best–like the perfect white button down, or a black sweater that’s thick but not too chunky. The fabrics are all sourced from the same mills used by luxury couture designers, and all pieces undergo rigorous fit-testing.
Like many of Philo’s designs, Kozha Numbers’ handbags are that elusive combination of architectural and feminine but not–and this is key–excessively “girly.” They have a distinctly grown-up quality that somehow simultaneously subverts the stereotypical and therefore stale connotations of what “grown up” means when it comes to fashion. On top of that, they’re also handcrafted with ethically treated leather from a Southern California factory that follows renewable practices. I have this one and, as a maximalist-leaning person, have been intrigued to discover how often I gravitate toward a bag that is so seemingly minimalist. But that’s the thing! It’s not basic-minimalist. It’s minimalism that says something by virtue of what’s left unsaid. Does that make sense??? I hope so.
Rosie Assoulin has carved out a recognizable niche in the fashion industry with her eponymous brand, revered for her uncanny ability to make black-tie dressing (among other things) downright joyful. With her new brand, By Any Other Name, she tackles something different–not clothes for an occasion, but rather clothes for the occasion–of life! (Hehe.) In other words, everyday stuff like going to work and running errands and being human. Her vision for this type of clothing does what Philo’s vision did at Céline: redefine what the building blocks of a woman’s wardrobe might look like. I’m especially partial to this riff on a classic white button-down.
Shop Pêche sells both vintage and contemporary items, but the shoes, which are all made from vegan leather and sold at great price points (mostly under $100), are what captivate me the most. Though Philo’s fuzzy Birkenstocks have a special place in my heart, her so-thin-you-can-barely-see-them sandal straps were always particularly drool-worthy. Such is the ethos captured by many of Shop Pêche’s creations, like this perfect pair of café au lait-colored lace-ups.
Are there any other Philo-adjacent brands I should add to my watch list? I’m also head-over-heels for Peter Do, which Juliana wrote about in a recent roundup of small brands and most definitely falls into this category. And COS! Which is not an emerging brand but is a carrier of well-priced clothes that could easily pass for Old Céline.
Feature image via By Any Other Name.