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18-06-2005
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She's Got The Look-Phoebe Philo Article
Monday, Jun. 13, 2005
She's Got the Look
Street-smart and rebellious, Phoebe Philo has made the house of Chloe hotter than ever. Introducing the go-to girl with the golden gut
By KATE BETTS

In movies, it's Natalie Portman. In music, it's Norah Jones. And in fashion it's Phoebe Philo. "It," in this case, refers to a woman who, without much hype or hoopla, emerges as the leader of the pack in her field, the swan the others paddle behind like cygnets. All three women are young and down to earth. And everybody wants a piece of them, or in Philo's case, as many pieces--bags, skirts, dresses--as they can afford. But unlike Portman or Jones, Philo is not yet a household name. She is the 31-year-old creative director of the so-venerable-it's-fresh-again French label Chloé. And since 2001, when she took the line over from her former boss, Stella McCartney, her breezy, romantic look has become the uniform of fashion-obsessed celebrities and front-row types. "For two solid years I've sold out of the stuff the minute it hits the floor," says Tracey Ross, owner of the namesake West Hollywood boutique. "She is definitely driving the whole contemporary market. They're all looking to her."

Indeed, at Paris runway shows and Hollywood premieres, stars from Portman to Jennifer Connelly are turning up in Chloé's soft-flowing dresses, peasant skirts and chunky heeled boots. Her influence is spreading even to women who have to pay for their clothes. Not since Helmut Lang introduced superskinny stovepipe pants in the early 1990s has fashion seen such a radical shift in shape. And Philo is widely credited with loosening up the silhouette. "She has absolute precision in terms of being able to seize the fashion moment," says Claudine Barnabé, owner of Espionne, a trendy fashion boutique in Paris. "She knows exactly what women are going to want tomorrow."

From whence comes this sixth sense for style? Philo doesn't stop to analyze it--or think it's a big deal. "A massive part of it is being a woman who loves clothes and bags and shoes," she says. "I'm quite simplistic and spontaneous. I can't really analyze it and intellectualize it." Whether it's intuition or a great eye, her ability to connect with her buyer--generally a fashion cognoscente with a taste for understated glamour--appears to be unerring. She is known for her ability to pick up on even the most extreme street trends and effortlessly blend them into the Chloé signature look of casual chic.

Crucially, Philo's smart sensibility extends to handbags, the heavy artillery in many labels' arsenals. The clothes are lovely, but accessories make money. This season's Paddington bag by Chloé, which retails for $1,280, has generated multipage waiting lists at several boutiques around the world. In London, the police were called into Chloé's Sloane Street boutique to discuss security surrounding the arrival of a shipment of bags.

Ralph Toledano, Chloe's CEO, took a gamble on Philo. When she was offered the top job, she was a rebellious, unknown assistant with a penchant for gold teeth, diamante-studded nails and hip-hop. Although many fashion insiders credited her street smarts for Chloe's success during McCartney's tenure, she was not an obvious choice to reinvent a 50-year-old brand that had not been a fashion must-have for the past 20. (Nor was she an obvious champion for the soft, romantic look she helped revive.) Philo herself seemed surprised, telling people she had been given the position "without anybody really knowing exactly what I do." Says Toledano: "Phoebe understands that nobody knows how to design for a woman better than a woman."

Yet fashion wasn't even Philo's first love. The daughter of a graphic designer and a surveyor, she initially studied sculpture and painting at London's Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design but switched to fashion as a more practical career choice. McCartney, a friend, offered her a job with Chloe in Paris, and by the time she was 27, Philo was at the label's helm. But this is not an All About Eve story. In a business in which many designers crave the spotlight and egos frequently outpace talent, Philo is nonchalant, modest and (brace yourself) a team player. After a five-month maternity leave for the birth of her daughter, Philo had her assistants take the final bow at Chloe's fall show while she watched from the front row.

Toledano's gamble has paid off. Chloe, which reportedly generates about $200 million a year in wholesale revenue, has seen its fall orders rise 80%. Owner Compagnie Financiere Richemont, the world's second largest luxury conglomerate, is adding all the frills of a successful label: more advertising and product lines, new stores, lines of children's clothing, jewelry and watches. The long-term goal is to turn Chloe into a billion-dollar brand.

Even with all this success, Philo remains as cool and breezy as her washed-silk peasant skirts. "I still don't really understand who I'm designing for," she says on the phone from Venice, where she is taking in the Biennale with her husband, art dealer Max Wigram. "It's definitely not me. I wear jeans and T shirts and comfy shoes. I really don't dress up at all." It must be that sixth sense of style.

Time Magazine

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18-06-2005
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StyleIsInUs's Avatar
 
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oh, nice article. Phoebe always was my fashion-and-design-icon. I love the way how she designs clothes, her ideas and style.I understand and support it completely!

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18-06-2005
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^Agreed. I love what Philo's done for Chloe.

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18-06-2005
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Phoebe is a great designer, and I know she will continue to be one for years to come! Thanks for sharing. <3

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18-06-2005
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I was going to post this so I scanned the picture of the article here it is!


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^thanks a lot for scanning!

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18-06-2005
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Bonchic, thanks so much for the scan

Phoebe is incredibly cool and I completely agree with StyleIsInUs' comment.

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20-06-2005
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your welcome

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20-06-2005
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oh thanks for the Scan
nice article!!
love Chloe! love what she did!

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20-06-2005
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wenthybu
oh thanks for the Scan
nice article!!
love Chloe! love what she did!
same here ! thanx for posting

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