18 July 2011

Phoebe Philo SPEAKS!

Wow! The famously publicity-shy designer Phoebe Philo of Céline, granted a rare interview this weekend to Susannah Frankel of The Independent. Here she is, chatting away about what she had for breakfast, what her children are like and all the insider gossip that comes from being high up in the LVMH stable. Errr, not exactly. True to expectations, she doesn’t give anything away about her personal life, or her design inspiration or anything nosy parkers are remotely interested in.

However, bearing in mind, LVMH boss Bernard Arnault recently praised her as a designer who represents the future, rather than the past, OR If you’re a  massive fashion geek, you might enjoy the following revelations QUITE A BIT!

She describes the latest collection (A/W pre collection) to go into the shops as feeling ‘quite British', going on to say; ‘I wanted to move into something that felt a bit closer to home. It's pretty masculine. That's how I dress and I think it's quite liberating for women not to have to be so preoccupied with different silhouettes, with different things.’

She explains why she hates interviews, saying ‘I'm not like that [closed off to journalists] on purpose. It's just about my comfort zone,’ she says. ‘I just feel it's really unnecessary.’

‘It is [a requirement of the job]. But I think that the clothes say it all much better than I can. I always find it strange after a show when everybody comes backstage and says: “What was it all about”? It's like: “You've just seen it. What do you mean?” My instinct is to say: “What did you think? What did you get from it?” And yet they want you to fill in even more.

‘To me, the show is quite a complete story. There's nothing more for me to say and, anyway, it doesn't matter what it was meant to say. It's out there. It can be whatever anyone watching it thought it was, surely.’

When she shows her collections, her backstage area isn't open to the media. ‘Once the show has happened there's no need to control any image,’ she says, ‘but I don't like the idea of people sending out images before we've even done it. We don't allow anyone to do that. I don't like all that “model backstage standing around having her picture taken in a stupid pose”.’ Eek! That’s you told, models backstage!

She also reveals a surprising fact; she says she didn’t know you could become a fashion designer until she went to art college – Phoebe completed her Art Foundation after school and when she discovered you could specialise in fashion design she applied, and won a place at Central Saints Martins – until then she was unaware that it was possible to make a living as a fashion designer. ‘I've always been interested in the way people look and dress and very opinionated about what I choose to wear, but I had no idea it could be a profession. Thank God.

‘I feel now people are almost too aware and, for students, that seems like a heavy load to carry. I felt very free for not knowing. I did drawing and sculpture, a bit of everything, but very much enjoyed the time I spent doing fashion. Then I discovered it was possible to specialise and I worked hard on my portfolio to get into Saint Martins. It wasn't until then that I knew. I was 18 and that's quite old when you think that, today, probably even 12-year-olds are aware you can become a fashion designer.’

Indeed it is. What a cool customer - in more sense of the word than one!

- Naomi Attwood


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