During her decade-long tenure as creative director of Céline, Phoebe Philo was famously private, to the point of frequently declining to give post-show interviews. Normally, that would likely serve as a deterrent, but for Philo, it in fact added to her allure, cementing her cult status to the point that her many admirers have stayed truer than ever to the designer since she left the house, in late 2017.
Philophiles haven’t just been busy rebuking Hedi Slimane’s controversial takeover as creative director of the house, which he’s since redubbed “Celine,” sans accent aigu. According to the Business of Fashion, they’ve also rather alarmingly been expressing their enduring loyalty to Philo with their wallets. Last month, Slimane’s widely criticized debut of 96 unisex looks made it clear that Celine’s legacy of being not only for women but also about women has disappeared into the ether—and turned Philo’s designs into collectors’ items, with luxury resale sites reporting a spike in prices of up to 30 percent.
The RealReal, for one, reported a 52 percent increase in searches for Celine in the weekend directly following Slimane’s show—an increase that’s continued into October, at a steady 29 percent. Prices, accordingly, have also gone up, ranging anywhere from 7 percent all the way up to 30 percent. (“We are finding people to be extremely loyal to her,” the site’s chief merchant told BoF, admitting that they’ve been capitalizing on the loyalty by adding a collection “in homage” to her work.)
Comparatively, though, the rise at the RealReal has already proven to be tiny. The website Vestiaire Collective saw searches begin to increase all the way back in mid-August, and only continue upward as Slimane, who’s known for his expertise in men’s wear, released more and more sneak peeks at his plans for the house, hinting he’d take it in the same rock ’n’ roll direction that he’d taken Saint Laurent. That all came to head in the six-day period preceding and immediately following Slimane’s debut, which saw visits to Celine pages jump all the way up to 275 percent, with 43 percent more Celine products—mostly Philo classics, like her It bags—sold than during that time the previous year. Meanwhile, over on eBay, searches for “Phoebe Philo” increased by 225 percent the day after Slimane’s show—a number that jumped all the way up to 700 in the days that followed.
Still, Celine’s parent company, LVMH, has hopes the house’s rebrand will soon bring in €3 billion per year, thanks, in part, to its branching out into fragrances, men’s wear, and couture. That ambitious plan could, in fact, still be entirely tenable, given that Slimane’s previous (and also controversial) stint at Saint Laurent was undeniably a moneymaker, quickly raking in so many millions that the house’s revenue doubled in Slimane’s first three years as its creative director—and, as his debut collection proved, he’s resolutely continuing on with his appreciation for grunge, glam, and rail-thin models now that he’s at Celine.
Over the course of her tenure—which a portion of the industry celebrated immediately after Slimane’s show, with a dress code that read “strictly Céline, not Celine”—Philo also established a uniform of sorts, though her quirky, ever-changing interpretations of tailored separates and billowing silhouettes were definitely a far cry from those of Slimane. As she told W in 2011, in addition to street culture and practicality, she also found “men’s wear and the fact that men usually have a set uniform very inspiring—there’s something liberating in not having too many choices. Maybe that’s something women are responding to in my work.” Never mind that it’s been more than a year since she put out any new designs: They clearly haven’t stopped responding since.