Will Céline’s Phoebe Philo Join Others Rejecting The New Fashion System?

Rumors swirl this morning that Phoebe Philo, creative director of Célene, will join an increasingly long list of designers defecting from fashion brands in recent months. Names including Raf Simons at Christian Dior, Alber Elbaz at Lanvin, and most recently Stefano Pilati at Zegna have all left their posts in recent succession. Reports of the speed with which the collections are made and the lack of creative freedom afforded designers are cited as the cause of the turmoil resulting in a backlash against the new fashion system.

Célene by Phoebe Philo

Raf Simons, former creative director of Dior, announced departure plans after only 8 months of his globally released documentary Dior & I which captured him developing his very first collection for the brand, as well as the organization of the stunning 2012 Dior couture show in only eight weeks. The documentary grossed over a million dollars at the box office.

Raf Simmons’ first Dior couture show in 2012

Prior to his announcement Raf hinted at his plans to leave Dior in an interview with System Magazine‘s Cathy Horyn, in it Raf repeatedly mentions the time challenge at Dior. Raf who was responsible for 6 collections a year, the only creative director outside of Karl Lagerfeld who does this for Chanel, tells Cathy “Everything is done in three weeks, maximum five. And when I think back to the first couture show for Dior, in July 2012, I was concerned because we only had eight weeks. (He smiles.) And now we never have time like that.”

From the “Dior & I” Documentary in March 2015

In the 11 page interview which took place over 6 months, Simmons spoke about his need for more creative time and for more personal time. When Raf departed Dior he shared in a statement, “It is a decision based entirely and equally on my desire to focus on other interests in my life, including my own brand, and the passions that drive me outside my work. Christian Dior is an extraordinary company, and it has been an immense privilege to write a few pages of this magnificent book.”

Raf Simons’ departure was followed by a lackluster 2016 Dior couture show, the first collection after Simons left the company.  LVMH hasn’t announced any plans to replace him.

First Dior Couture show, Spring 2016, after Raf Simmons' departure
First Dior Couture show, Spring 2016, after Raf Simmons’ departure

Greater controversy swirled over Alber Elbaz’s dismissal from Lanvin. Enough for former French culture minister Jack Lang to release a statement over the decision, WWD reported:

“To cut the wings of this exceptional talent in this way makes me very sad and angry. This dismissal is an unbearable and unspeakable injustice. Talent is not dismissable and our country should be proud of the great Alber Elbaz. He is one of our national treasures. He is an icon and a source of pride to us.”

Unfortunately, the ministers concern about losing a national treasure at such an important post came too late.

Lanvin Spring 2012 by Alber Elbaz

Alber Elbaz hinted prior to his dismissal to turmoil caused by insistence to create designs that gain more media coverage when he received the Superstar award at the Fashion Group International’s Night of the Stars: “We designers started as couturiers with dreams, with intuitions and with feelings. We started with, ‘What do women want? What do women need? What can I do for women to make their lives better and easier? How can I make a woman more beautiful?’ That is what we used to do,” he said. “Then we became creative directors, so we have to create, but mostly direct. And now we have to become image-makers, making sure it looks good in the pictures. The screen has to scream baby — that’s the rule. And loudness is the new thing.”

Models walk the runway during the Lanvin Spring/Summer 2016 on October 1, 2015 in Paris, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

The upcoming Fall 2016 Lanvin fashion show in March will be the first collection shown  since the split. A successor has yet to be named.

These new rumors of Phoebe Philo’s dissatisfaction has only caused more turmoil amongt the fashion industry regarding the new direction of the fashion system.

Other rumors regarding the replacement of Hedi Slimane by current Versus creative director Anthony Vaccarello are also making the rounds.

Is Hedi Slimane leaving Saint Laurent Paris?

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