How LVMH lured Phoebe Philo back to Fashion

11 March 2010

First, catch your designer  . . .

Luxury brand owners – read this! How do you lure yourself a 24 carat designer into the fold? We’ve uncovered the secrets of how LMVH persuaded a recalcitrant Phoebe Philo to sign for Celine. Ms Philo, woman of the moment – name on everyone’s lips, trousers on every editor’s hips, cover star of much anticipated new biennial style bible The Gentlewoman and whose Celine show was the hot ticket at Paris Fashion Week.

Phoebe was at another French heritage brand – Chloe, during some of its most successful years (remember the Paddington bag?) first as Stella McCartney’s right hand woman, then after her departure in 2001, as Creative Director.

In 2006 she left voluntarily to look after her young family, feeling worn out from commuting between London (home) and Paris (Chloe) to the sound of a collective sigh of disappointment from all the fashion editors (‘Whaddawe going to wear NOW?’). So the announcement of her return to the international catwalks, as head designer for Celine was quite a coup for owners LMVH.

But how did they pull it off? Pierre-Yves Roussel, chief executive of LVMH's fashion division, travelled to London every other week for nearly a year to persuade Phoebe to come on board at the brand. The company also agreed to build her a design studio in London, so she wouldn’t have to face the cross-Channel commute.

As well as these allowances for Philo herself, certain other changes were put in place. All remaining stock from the brand was “destroyed” (yikes, how mafiosa), and all but one Celine store was closed in the United States. Ties to less exclusive retailers like Bloomingdale's and Net-a-Porter were cut, and the accent was restored to the brand's name in a bid to elevate the brand.

It looks like their strategy has paid off! The entire audience of fashionistas at the AW show in Paris this week was clad in the spring collection and the latest offering has received rave reviews from all and sundry for its grown up, woman-friendly, minimal pieces. Our own Style Director Paula Reed earmarked the show as one of her favourites of the season, describing it succinctly as ‘beautiful’  

- Naomi Attwood



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