In December, Phoebe Philo announced her departure from French brand Céline. There’s been no indication from Philo or her team that she’ll be working for a competitor brand, which leads both fans and industry voices to wonder what’s next for the British designer and her inimitable vision.
Céline was the brand that truly created wearable and timeless fashion for an empowered and dynamic woman; clothes that don't go out of fashion, and that don't over-sexualize women. These were garments for women who are sure of themselves.
Though Philo will undoubtedly be missed, she is not the only designer with a keen understanding of what women want to wear. There is hope to be found in other brands that deal in the kind of thoughtful, wearable sensibility that made Philo's Celine a runway success. Like Philo, many creators (mostly females) have a firsthand knowledge of what makes sense in the real world.
1. Stella McCartney
She defines her look as “sharp tailoring, natural confidence and sexy femininity”, and her refusal to use leather or fur is just part of a commitment to leading “a responsible, honest, and modern company.” Stella McCartney’s pared-back approach to design has garnered a cult following among women who crave clean lines that wear from desk to dinner with ease. A consistently fresh aesthetic is underpinned by the designer’s attention to detail.
2. The Row
Established by three-time CFDA award winners Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen, The Row has a sense of relaxed and timeless elegance, and is defined by fine fabrics and the perfect fit. With a broad range of offerings, from silk sheath dresses to plush cashmere sweaters, the Row affords women options. They hang very simply, and yet a woman puts it on and looks perfectly stunning.
3. Rejina Pyo
For a female designer that centers women as much as Philo did, look no further but to Rejina Pyo. She shows the same sensibility as Phoebe — there is an emotion in her design. The London-based Korean designer whose collections are inspired by art and architecture may sate the appetites of those missing Céline’s near-perfect looks. Drawing inspiration from modern art, Rejina Pyo brand describes its aesthetic as “graphic and playful yet effortlessly elegant.
4. Gabriela Hearst
Gabriela Hearst is another woman who is fluent in the language of understated chic. Since launching her line three years ago, Hearst has become known for fuss-free staples rendered in the most exquisite materials. A classic trench coat becomes swoon-worthy when lined with checked wool and finished with artfully frayed edges; a plaid skirt is made seductive by panels of sheer chiffon peeking between its pleats. It’s the hand-crafted details—the kinds of styles that may only be appreciated by the woman wearing them—that make Hearst’s riffs on old standards instantly desirable and endlessly wearable.
5. Victoria Beckham
Victoria Beckham’s design focus is women and what they want to wear - each piece is cut to look beautiful from all angles, flatter and feel comfortable. In addition to an elegant ready-to-wear offering, the brand is adored for its luxurious leather bags handmade in Italy, as well as chic shoes and sunglasses.
Swedish style maven Elin Kling brings you Totême - a collection of chic, luxurious essentials for the modern woman on-the-go. “I have always been very strategic when dressing. I love the idea of creating a uniform,” she says. Bridging the gap between your city and vacation wardrobe, the line includes everything from breezy knitted dresses to eccentric monogram designs in crisp cotton-poplins and soft cashmere-blends.
Louise Trotter, a new design director for the brand, is focused on meeting the needs and wants of brand's established customers. Joseph’s collections are defined by the brand’s “strong core of luxury essentials.” From faultless shearling and trench coats to silk shirts and slip dresses, these are the pieces to build your work and weekend wardrobe around.The emphasis lies on the design rather than the detailing, with lavish fabrics forming elegant silhouettes.
Caroline Belhumeur joined as creative director about a year ago, and has been working closely with Vince’s brand director, Tomoko Ogura to elevate and refine the label—and, at the same time, bring it a bit more down to earth. Spring 2019 collection had a sense of warmth. There was also a new softness, both in fabric and silhouette, that gave the clothes a different attitude, rooted in Vince’s California heritage.
From sharp suiting and fluid dresses to cosy knits and enviable accessories; bookmark the New York-based label for an instant dose of downtown cool.
Founder and designer Amy Smilovic established Tibi while living in Hong Kong, and has since built the brand from its first four-piece collection in 1997 to a contemporary heavyweight. With a modern approach to design, the American label has garnered a cult following among the stylish who crave its effortlessly chic silhouettes.
As a former head designer at The Row, Francesco Fucci is intent on imbuing Theory with a similar sense of relaxed luxury. The proposition for SS2019, is to let the clothes do the work for you, so you can be your best, most casually radiant self. The Spring collection is thus filled with away-from-the-body shapes: a tomato red tunic dress, an ivory jumpsuit with wide-leg pants, marigold car coats with a couture-like swing.
Launched in 2016 by designer Catherine Holstein, Khaite has become known for its signature balance of structure and fluidity, strength and softness, masculine and feminine – combining to create a collection of elevated, elegant pieces. Effortless cashmere and denim are key, alongside pared-back shirting and dresses.
12. Mansur Gavriel
New York-based designers Rachel Mansur and Floriana Gavriel are inspired by “the contrast of warm, natural textures and the clear, clean intensity of pop colors” when creating their coveted bags and shoes. In Fall 2017 the duo presented their first RTW collection. The clothes are drawn along similar lines as their coveted handbags: minimalist and denuded of any hardware or fussy embellishment, reasonably priced, and available in a myriad of colors
The list of cool brands goes on: Rosetta Getty, Derek Lam, Narciso Rodriguez, Lemaire, Jill Sander, MaxMara, Sally Lapointe, Loewe...
Not that any of these collections are copycats—they each offer their own unique vision of what modern women live their lives in. Phoebe Philo may have proved the relevance (and selling power) of tapping into women’s genuine wants and needs, but her departure leaves room for Philo-philes to embrace those other designers that are still carrying that torch.