Phoebe Philo’s Tricks & Treats

Tailored Man’s Coat in Black Wool and Cashmere & Hand Embroidered Trousers in Ivory – Photos Courtesy of Phoebe Philo

I can’t recall a fashion launch preceded by as much hype, publicity, and anticipation as the inauguration of Phoebe Philo’s eponymous luxury collection line. Since Philo’s initial announcement in 2021, we have been waiting and waiting and waiting; all the waiting has added to the heightened anticipation.

Finally, at around 11 A.M. on Monday, the screen that had been black for so long came alive with PHOEBE PHILO in bold red block letters, shown against an image of model Daria Werbowy from the waist up.

Daria Werbowy is the face of Phoebe Philo’s campaign

The Philo muse and face of the campaign is make-up-free, her hair damp and pulled back, wearing a black leather jacket with strong shoulders and a high funnel collar. Was it worth the wait? Well. Yes! And great timing.

“I hope when women wear Céline they feel confident and strong. I am not a big fan of women being sexualized through clothes, as you can probably tell from my work”

Phoebe Philo

“Women Dressing Women,” The Costume Institute’s fall 2023 exhibition, which opens on December 7th, will celebrate the artistic and creative legacy of women designers and women-led fashion houses. I can’t think of another female designer, other than Miuccia Prada, who has had more of a transformative impact on the fashion landscape in the 21st century than Phoebe Philo.

The fact that Philo launched the day before Halloween is not lost on me. Like it or not, we are all basically affecting a “costume” when we decide how to dress for our various roles on any given day.

Structured Tailored Blazer in Black Wool and Scarf Top in Black

Phoebe Philo’s idea of what constitutes a perfect daily “costume” traditionally revolves around a cultured, sophisticated uniform mixing the pragmatic with the fanciful, the masculine and feminine with an emphasis on strong, sharp silhouettes. It precisely sums up Philo’s latest designs.

Trench Coat in Khaki Melange Whipcord Wool With Attachable Scarf

There was speculation that Philo would change course and surprise (after all, so many others have been and continue to be inspired by her past work). The only real surprise is that there are no surprises. It is pure, unadulterated Phoebe, beginning with the chic neutral color palette played out in black, chocolate brown, army green, oxblood, ivory and white. The only strong color Phoebe uses is “fluro” red.

These clothes are for women who want a fuss-free life and can afford the best. Prices begin at $450 for oversized goggle-style sunglasses and go up to $25,000 +. Nothing is dainty, precious, or overstated. The collection exudes a casual, sporty ease.

“To offer women something that feels more about investing in something and less about being disposable is a complete corrective to the world we live in”

Phoebe Philo

Zip Jacket in Black Leather and Hand-Combed Embroidered Sliced Skirt in Black Viscose

These are skillfully cut, luxuriously fabricated, and desirable clothes to collect and wear repeatedly, from pleated trousers puddling to the floor and wide-legged jeans to perfect button-down shirts.

Silk Top with Attached Scarf

It is all intelligently designed and well thought out. Bonnie Cashin would be proud. Many coats and jackets have face framing, wind-blocking high collars, or attached serapes. There are silk shirts with tied large scarves.

Tasseled Black Leather Bomber

The handsome belted trench coats and leather jackets are perfectly cut, and they all have something extra to make them distinctive. A bomber jacket in black leather with a snapped stand collar has an attachable nappa-back leather scarf worn loosely or draped across the front of the body. The bomber jacket in black leather with a snapped stand collar and hand-cut broad leather tassels is exceptional.

High Neck Stucco Turtleneck

Then there are the turtlenecks. Philo is known for her love of turtlenecks. It’s not surprising that the High Neck Stucco Turtleneck is sold out, as are many of the other items.

Upright Collar Shirt in Slate Gray Pinstripe with Hand Combed Embroidered Trousers in Black

While the emphasis is on sophisticated, sturdy pragmatism, that doesn’t mean a lack of fantasy. I love the way Phoebe takes minimalist mannish coats, button-downs, and easy knitwear tops and juxtaposes them with fanciful trousers in white or black glossy viscose twill with front-only hand-combed embroidery on a ribbon base.

Hand Combed Embroidered Coat in Cream

You can’t get more fantastic than the coat in cream glossy viscose twill with all-over hand-combed embroidery, which is closely fit on top, complete from the waist down. The price is so fantastic it’s listed as PUR: Price Upon Request.

XL Cabas in Black Leather

Accessories are straightforward, pared down, to the point, and many, like the handsome leather gloves and double face serapes, have already sold out. There are capacious totes and well-sized shoulder bags; some are entirely devoid of decoration, while others have a touch of sculptural gold hardware.

Phoebe likes a square toe, nothing pointy. There are sleek ankle boots and low-cut pumps on a 90mm heel (3.5 inches) in butter-soft black, brown, and oxblood leather, as well as glossy black patent. It is the season of the loafer, and Philo has introduced two of the chicest around. Hers, balanced on a low, very walkable 2.4-inch heel, have quickly sold out.

In addition to sterling silver and gold plated sterling necklaces and bracelets, and lanyard and glass pendants, most of which have sold out, there is an oversized white Dahlia brooch that will be available soon.

Left: Peter Do Fall 2021 Ready-to-Wear Photo by An Nguyen Courtesy of Peter Do; Right: Phoebe Philo Dahlia Brooch in white

I was reminded of Phoebe Philo’s protégé Peter Do, who once said, “I learned everything from Phoebe.” Do’s terrific fall 2021 ready-to-wear collection was accessorized with oversized feathered brooches in black and white.

I have often thought that Peter Do’s designs remind me of Phoebe, and now Phoebe reminds me of Peter Do. It’s a compliment for both.

Latest Comments:

  1. Great article! I enjoyed every sentence–so true, unfortunate as it may be. I even learned some new jargon. Hopefully, it…

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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