Phoebe Philo Breaks Her Silence

The last time Phoebe Philo, who has been called “the Chanel of her generation,” gave a formal interview was a decade ago. The designer, whose work offered women respite from the limits of the male gaze, has never been all that interested in explaining herself.

“I say most of what I feel, and most of what is worth me saying, through what I make,” she offered recently. We were sitting in a blank white room in what would be her new headquarters in Ladbroke Grove in London, far from the hipster East End and the luxury stores of Bond Street. The office, still under construction, contained not a single personal item — not even a marketing photograph on the wall.

Her black nylon bomber, rounded in the shoulders and cropped above the waist, looked sort of like a small turtle shell into which she could withdraw and emerge at will. Under the bomber she wore gray pinstripe trousers and a matching oversize shirt. Her brown hair was pulled into a casual ponytail, and she wasn’t wearing any makeup. She is as disinterested in artifice as she is in oversharing.

When Ms. Philo speaks, she does so in elliptical phrases, using questions as an opening to more questions.

Though she became famous for transforming both Chloé and Celine, she walked away from the industry almost seven years ago and pretty much dropped out of sight, transformed into a myth practically overnight — the fashion unicorn whose work was an answer to questions you didn’t even realize you had.

The second Phoebe Philo drop continues to highlight leather outerwear, as in this dropped waist leather jacket, shown with oversize berry-colored wool trousers.Credit…via Phoebe Philo

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