Cult designer Phoebe Philo launches long-awaited debut collection

By Leah Dolan, CNN

(CNN) — “PhoebePhilo.com is now open.” It’s music to fashion fanatics’ ears, particularly the self-titled ‘Philophiles’ that have been loyal followers to the British designer since she overhauled French luxury houses Chloé (2001-2006) and Celine (2008-2017) .

Known for her sophisticated oeuvre and understated elegance, Philo’s fashion influence is far-reaching. Not only is the designer beloved by the industry (she was named the CFDA’s Designer of the Year in 2011 and in 2014 received an Officer of the Order of the British Empire from the then-PrinceCharles for her impact in fashion), but her work has spawned a thousand fast-fashion copycats — which she once said was “really flattering and exciting.”

Today, fans registered to Philo’s mailing list were finally alerted of the launch collection, dubbed “A1”. No advertising, no campaign, and no fashion show punctuated the three month wait. With the 150-piece drop came Philo’s mission statement: “As part of our determination to address overall environmental impact, our focus is on the material issues of over consumption, waste, and the fashion supply chain,” read a press statement. “Our aim is to create a product that reflects permanence. The Phoebe Philo business model is designed to create a responsible balance between production and demand. For us, this means producing notably less than anticipated want.”

At between $4,000 and $16,500 for a jacket, it’s hard to imagine the collection becoming an instant sell out. On social media, some are disappointed at the price point. “There goes that pipe dream,” wrote one user on X. But affordability has never been Philo’s style. She has never, for one, collaborated with a high street brand; a practice common in today’s fashion landscape (J.W. Anderson for Uniqlo, Paco Rabanne for H&M, Christopher John Rogers for Target, for example).These are luxury investment pieces, a spectrum of classics (read: the khaki-colored trench coat with a detachable cape function, or the navy wool overcoat economically titled “Man’s Coat”) that will never date, even if it takes several years to save up for one.

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Despite offering the classic wardrobe essentials, there is nothing dull about Philo’s latest collection. For every dependable staple, there is a surprising statement piece that will have you rethinking everything (what more can you expect from the woman who brought you fur-lined Birkenstocks?) Tailored trousers fronted with fuzzy, hand-combed embroidery boasts a texture that on first glance resembles fur or a plume of feathers. Textured tassels appear again in the form of a high-neck bias-cut asymmetric mini dress in scarlet red — the result is a material that almost looks like animal hide, á la a chic Wilma Flintstone. Elsewhere, a flat, weighted gold necklace infinitely repeats the word “Mum.”

The pieces launched today will be supplemented over the coming months, eventually resulting in the full collection. The second part of the drop, “A2,” is set to arrive in Spring 2024. Whether it too will be met with such hype remains to be seen.

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