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Parisian Perspectives: Celine is Dead, Long Live PHOEBE!

Article by Meredith Keeve a.k.a. the Wandering Parisian

style over 50 Celine paris fashion


Only those of you living under rocks will have escaped the pertinent and provocative response of the UK press (the French press was much more discreet, after all LVMH is a VERY big deal in France) to Hedi Slimane’s “New” Celine runway show. Basically Slimane did recycled Slimane: lots of skinny black suits and sheer mini-skirts – clothes that tend to look fabulous on anorexic teens. His show seemed to repudiate everything that went on before – namely Phoebe Philo (2008-2018).

For those of you flying below the Fashion Radar, once upon a time there was a woman called Phoebe Philo who in 2008 took over a French brand (belonging to LVMH) called Celine and turned a relatively low profile fashion house into a feminist movement.

Quotes from Phoebe Philo:

“I’m not interested in clothes that just convey a certain look or fashion. Clothes for me have always been a form of self-expression.”

“I don’t believe in making fashion difficult”

“The older I get, and the more collections I do, the more I’m driven by real style and beauty. My aim is to reveal and not to display women.”

Beautiful clothes for working women

So here was a genuine, working, woman making beautiful clothes for other working women. Real clothes, clothes that functioned and traveled and did not require elaborate undergarments or stiletto heels in order to wear them. Many people did not understand or could not afford Celine, certainly it was a very specific market. (Though the handbags were huge bestsellers.) Phoebe used writer Joan Didion in an ad campaign. She brought back the Birkenstock.

Phoebe Philo had a tremendous impact on working women and fashion in general. In the evolutionary curve of fashion she got there first. Now there is The Modiste, and a growing number of sites that specialize in NON-bodycon garments.

The pendulum has swung ladies. The ever present flash-of-flesh on Instagram and everywhere else it seems has had its moment.

And why does this matter to Parisians?

First, because Parisians know that how you dress has everything to do with how you feel. And as they say “Americans dress to look rich; Italians dress to look sexy and the French dress to look as though they don’t care”.

No matter what you put on it should look like you did it on purpose, but it was easy.

Phoebe Philo designed clothes to put on and go:

“Women should have choices, and women should feel good in what they wear.”

Long live the Philophiles!







Meredith Keeve

Now a Personal Stylist, Meredith Keeve has worked in publishing, fashion, cinema, interior decoration and art in Paris, London, Miami and Toronto. Working as a wardrobe consultant with her French mentor, she learned to identify the ‘closet’ issues women face – the emotional/intellectual relationship to clothes and how clothing can impact and influence how a woman presents and perceives herself. MK chose to specialize in the 50+ customer, attuning her understanding of that customer’s particular needs and desires to determine and implement optimal wardrobe solutions for each individual, in every circumstance.

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  1. Elizabeth

    November 20, 2018

    I loved Celine with Phoebe and was so disappointed with the change in direction. That beautiful, easy way of dressing had gone for outfits that looked difficult and uncomfortable. And why have they taken the accent off Celine????

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