Decoding Phoebe Philo’s Next Act

As rumours rage louder that Phoebe Philo is launching her own fashion brand, we play a game of Mystic Meg with the Instagrammer behind the hugely popular @oldceline account

Emma Firth | 14.02.2020

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High-fashion HR departments must be having a field day. This year it’s been almost impossible to ignore the swirling rumours of designer musical chairs: Is Raf Simons really going to head up Miu Miu? Could Simon Porte Jacquemus put his signature stamp on Jean Paul Gaultier for the next-gen?

Now, what's this? Phoebe Philo is returning, apparently. According to reports in WWD, Philo is said to be launching her own brand, focused on essential pieces with a eco-slant. Listen closely, and you can hear the tears of joy from fashion editors who bought into her minimalist aesthetic during her 10-year reign at Céline. Of course, die-hard Philophiles found some solace upon discovering @oldceline on Instagram. Masterminded by superfan Gabrielle Boucinha in September 2018, as a “tribute to Phoebe’s work at Céline - it is everything I love about fashion.” It now has a 302k-strong following, with industry insiders, photographers and editors seeking a fix of nostalgia.

“Old Céline was definitely about investing in pieces that you will have forever. The less you have to think about it, the better.”

Gabrielle Boucinha

Here, the Toronto-based Instagrammer unpicks the iconic designer’s style DNA and peeks into fashion’s crystal ball to piece together what @newphoebephilo could look like.




“Céline really became recognisable for its lifestyle of ‘less is more’, quiet confidence, and subtle luxury. My favourite pieces? My jewellery and shoes. All I’ve wanted to buy for a while now is old Céline. There are quite a few dresses on my list as well - these are all pieces that I love and know that I will keep for a long time. You feel as if your mind has been read when you’re wearing Céline. Every single detail has really been thought out and you realise that Phoebe thought of something you needed before you knew you needed it. To me, old Céline is a reminder that to truly make an impact you don’t need to try so hard.

In an age of rotating trends, hype-brands, disposability and over consumption I feel content investing in the everlasting. Céline accentuates the power and intellect in every woman. Phoebe’s work had life to it and every show really moved me. Her work reminds us of who we are rather than who we are supposed to be. It’s so hard to choose a favourite look: every season and every look was magic. But I would say one of my top favourites would be the Yves Klein dresses from SS17.”


“All of them [Phoebe’s ad campaign’s at Céline] presented such a fresh; they have all become iconic. Of course, the Joan Didion campaigns were so progressive and unique - in my opinion there still has yet to be anything quite like it from leading fashion houses.”



“Old Céline was definitely about investing in pieces that you will have forever. The less you have to think about it, the better. I think women around the world can agree that their Céline pieces are forever pieces. Phoebe expressed the importance of always thinking wider than fashion, to only buy what you need and to invest in the pieces that will last.

The most urgent and important issues of our time are sustainability and the climate change crisis. So, especially in the age of over-consumption, I think fashion will naturally become “slower” in the sense that more and more people are interested in saving for a longer time; to buy the pieces they really love instead of something they can purchase instantly. Of course, if the (reported) brand has a strong environmental focus, there is even more incentive to support it.”


“Definitely big tote bags that are perfect for every day. She also revolutionised the way the modern woman dresses: With the wide-leg trouser, and combining slip dresses with sneakers. Her designs resulted in women feeling strong, powerful, and confident. This was a powerful statement for a leading fashion house to make…to promote less is more in the era of consuming as much as possible.”

Credits | main image via shutterstock 

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