In the wake of that mess with John Galliano at Dior, what could be more refreshing than a designer who doesn’t draw any attention to herself, doesn’t seek the spotlight, and doesn’t design clothes to be editorialized and then forgotten? Nothing, that’s what. Which is probably why this extremely rare interview with Celine designer Phoebe Philo (who fits the anti-Galliano bill to a T) was arranged. Philo, whose brand is owned by the same people who used to employ Galliano, is extremely press shy, but you can see why Bernard Arnault and the rest of her bosses at LVMH would want her to talk about herself in a widely-circulated publication. She’s a talented designer, a wife and mother, and an uncompromising manager who gets things done. And her clothing empowers the women who wear it to do the same.
Philo sat down with The Independent to talk about how she transformed not only Chloe, which she took over in 2001, but also Celine, where she signed on as creative director in 2008. Since then, the brand has blossomed under her no-nonsense direction, primarily because her simple, stripped back clothing made sense for women who didn’t want to make brash displays of their wealth at a time when the world would have hated them for it. Philo says she’s making clothes, not showpieces, and she can’t be bothered with the spectacle of being a fashion designer. So she doesn’t let it get to her. Take in our favorite parts of the interview, below.
On her design philosophy:
“What I love is this idea of a wardrobe,” says Phoebe Philo, “the idea that we’re establishing certain signatures and updating them, that a change in colour or fabric is enough. I do think that the world doesn’t need many more frivolous bits and bobs that end up left in cupboards or landfills.”
On working 9 to 5:
Philo insists on a reasonable working day. “I think that’s a discipline I’ve taught myself,” she says. “We’re just organised. Everybody in this building knows when I arrive and when I leave and the important things are done within those hours. That’s just the way it is. And it works.
“I have a fantastic team and it’s much easier having children, because that creates a natural limit. If I have a good time with them before they go to sleep, it’s worth everything to me.”
On why she hates talking to journalists:
“I think that the clothes say it all much better than I can. I always find it strange after a show when everybody comes backstage and says: ‘What was it all about’? It’s like: ‘You’ve just seen it. What do you mean?’ My instinct is to say: ‘What did you think? What did you get from it?’ And yet they want you to fill in even more.
“To me, the show is quite a complete story. There’s nothing more for me to say and, anyway, it doesn’t matter what it was meant to say. It’s out there. It can be whatever anyone watching it thought it was, surely.”
Spoken like a real artist. Philo doesn’t mention Galliano, Arnault or Kanye West, who’s one of her biggest fans, in the interview, and maybe that’s part of the mystique. Let the clothes speak for themselves. Take a look at the rest of the interview here.