Phoebe Philo has been rumored to be departing Céline since, at the very least, 2015, when Vanessa Friedman exposed long-time industry chatter surrounding the British designer and her role at the French fashion brand. It may have taken two years for such hearsay to come to head, but on Friday morning, WWD reported that Philo is set to exit the house and her title as creative director, effective immediately. (A spokesperson for Céline also confirmed the news to Fashionista.) Her final Fall 2018 collection will be presented in March.
Céline's team of designers will continue to create for the French fashion house until her successor is announced in the next coming months. It is reported that Philo will not design for another label anytime soon.
In a statement provided by Philo to her team that was obtained by WWD, she said:
"Working with Céline has been an exceptional experience for me these last 10 years. I am grateful to have worked with an incredibly talented and committed team and I would like to thank everyone along the way who has been part of the collaborations and conversations… it’s been amazing."
While Philo's departure was only made official on Friday, Business of Fashion reported in October that LVMH, which has owned and operated Céline since 1996, had been interviewing designers to replace Philo "for a few months," according to a source close to the matter. Upon these reports, a spokesperson for Céline denied Philo's exit to Business of Fashion. However, the terms of her departure had reportedly been agreed upon before this summer.
Of course, Philo's Céline has been as wildly popular as it's been critically acclaimed, and her successor will have large footsteps to fill commercially, editorially and otherwise. While the brand has remained mum about Philo's replacement, Business of Fashion has reported that potential candidates could include former Stella McCartney design director Natasa Cagalj (now at Ports 1961), design director of Céline ready-to-wear Michael Rider and Victoria Beckham design director Ilaria Icardi.
A graduate of Central Saint Martins, Philo joined Céline in 2008 from Chloé, where she worked alongside Stella McCartney following Karl Lagerfeld's exit in 1997. Philo leaves Céline, which was founded by Céline Vipiana as a children's shoe brand in 1945, as one of LVMH's most successful properties, though that hadn't always been the case; prior to Philo's tenure, the brand was strong, particularly under Michael Kors's lead from 1997-2004, but far from the powerhouse it is today.
Perhaps Philo's replacement will usher Céline into the digital era, to which the designer has been famously averse. We'll just have to wait and see.
Note: This post has been updated from its original version to note that Philo's final collection will be presented in March, not January, which was previously reported by WWD.