It’s here! The momentous Monday morning when Phoebe Philo opens her online shop has finally arrived‚ after surely the longest tease in fashion history. It wasn’t just the three interminable months’ wait since untold thousands signed up to her website on July 27; it was also the nearly six-year-long endurance of the Philophiles after she left Celine in 2017. It’s impossible to exaggerate the level of anticipation over the reappearance of this leader of women. Even more so, at a time where there are more female creative directors leaving the scene than joining it.
At first viewing, she has delivered what we’ve hoped for: a powerful punch of imagery and silhouettes to set your mind whirring; the Phoebe Philo tang of oddness, eroticism, and humor she so cleverly secretes amongst clothes that are just perfectly wearable. The thrill of her attitude radiates from her pictures with an uncompromising confidence: strong women, who are basically looking down on the viewer.
On an appointment at the company’s brand-new headquarters, all of her female-gaze understanding of fashion—and much more—became vividly apparent. In the showroom behind the anonymous frontage of a building in London, it was very clear: Phoebe Philo is born not just as a complete collection, but as a new luxury fashion house. It has its own in-house atelier and perfectionist standards to equal the best of Paris (which Phoebe obviously knows all about), and already, what you see encompasses everything from tailoring to leather jackets (a lot of leather), great coats, casual-ish pieces, a suggestion of after-hours wear, shoes, bags, sunglasses, and jewelry.
But it’s also, crisply and very intentionally, about her economy of style. The genius of Phoebe Philo—the element so long missed by her faithful—is how she puts her concise stamp on new proportions and provokes new ways to wear things. With this collection (she isn’t calling it that, but we’ll get to that in a minute), her equation is thus: a big, rounded shoulder line, trousers, and always, with everything, high heels.
New varieties of very specific heels, that is—ones that are high-vamped just-off-classic loafers with heels sculpted to be solid and wide at the back, yet sliced thin in profile; madly funny fringed ones; and seriously sexy stiletto pumps.
About the shoulders: They’re oversized, and therefore in sync with what’s going around, but it’s the arched roundedness of them (more akin to an ’80s Giorgio Armani or Claude Montana, perhaps) that decisively shifts things. The slanted silhouette struck by her model wearing a dark brown leather blouson, cinched into a drop-waisted peplum, with a perfectly -graduated wideness to her pants says it all.
Philophiles need no lectures on her excellence in trouser-design—the talent and precision of fit she’s practically made her life’s work ever since being a student. Now, there’s a smorgasbord of Philo-pant choice on its way. Pairs that look perfectly regular from the front, but which are bisected by zips, right up the back of each leg, hem to waistband (unzip at will to reveal a heel, a calf… or more.) Yeti shag-pile textile-concept ones (close relations of a snowy mountain-like art-wear coat.) Deconstructed cargo pant templates, with bondage straps slung at the knee. And then, amazingly cut everyday jeans and ideal track-bottoms.
The point—the familiar delight which comes rushing back—is the way Phoebe Philo suggests so many elegant short-cuts to chic. Her design for living also mixes in things to adapt: generous scarves which button on and off, to create drapes as one wishes or perhaps turn into waist-wraps or, goodness knows, a bustier if you feel like it.
But this, as we said, is not a collection as we know it. What appears today is the first tranche of what the company is calling Edits; a series of three online releases, labeled A1, which are to appear from now to December. A2 will arrive through spring and so on. It is only ever going to be available on PhoebePhilo.com, and is intended, in an anti-trend sort of way, to be seasonless, “to create a product which reflects permanence.”
That might sound new, but it’s also what she’s been great at all along, as the Philophiles (who’ve been wearing their ‘Old Celine’ for nigh a decade) well know. This, then, is a day of celebration for a huge fashion sisterhood. There’s one ominous caveat, though. A note at the end of the launch fact sheet, which talks of kerbing wasteful over-production, ends with the phrase: “For us, that means producing notably less than anticipated want.”
If by reading this, you’re just heading there now and it’s already sold out, apologies.
Shop the collection at phoebephilo.com now.
This article was originally published on Vogue.com