Finally, a fashion brand makes aging aspirational

If any designer can do it, it’s Phoebe Philo. The beloved Brit launched her eponymous brand Monday, and the 150 looks that debuted on a bare-bones website suggest that a high-fashion designer has finally articulated how wonderful, powerful and interesting it is to age.Philo disappeared from fashion in late 2017, when she resigned from her post as the creative director of Celine. Her phantom presence has loomed over women’s wardrobes ever since.

In the meantime, five years after she left, the runways still bear her imprint. Her former employees are now some of the industry’s top brass creative talents — Peter Do of his own label and Helmut Lang, Daniel Lee of Bottega Veneta and now Burberry, Matthieu Blazy of Bottega Veneta. And countless brands, from luxury labels like the Row, Co and Khaite to H&M’s upscale-mall offering Cos, bear her mark: sophisticated, pared back, slightly mischievous.

But when Philo announced she would launch an eponymous brand in July 2021, fans (phans?) went into a frenzy. Months passed without news. A September 2023 launch date came and went.For shoppers, the anticipation and delays were as torturous as the rollout to Rihanna’s forever-forthcoming follow-up album to 2016’s “Anti.”

Beneath the familiarity is a message that isn’t radical, per se, but is provocative: to be sophisticated — to be older — is a powerful thing. Aging isSo little is known about Philo, who is 50; she keeps her private life exactly that. But it is hard not to see the trajectory of her work as autobiographical — not as sweeping statements about her life events, but in the small changes in our bodies and minds, and how we spend our time, as we grow.

Everything is shockingly expensive, even for a luxury label; the bags start at $3,500, the ribbon pants are $5,200, there is a $16,500 shearling coat. And speaking of labels, there are none. If anyone is going to know your rectangular tote is $8,500, it’s you, and probably you alone.

Phoebe Philo Is Actually, Finally, BackTara Gonzalez is the Senior Fashion Editor at Harper’s Bazaar. Previously, she was the style writer at InStyle, founding commerce editor at Glamour, and fashion editor at Coveteur. Read more ⮕

Phoebe Philo’s Eponymous Debut Is Finally HereThe designer released 150 pieces online on Monday, with two more drops promised in the future. Read more ⮕

Phoebe Philo’s first collection is finally hereDaisy Murray is the Digital Fashion Editor at ELLE UK, spotlighting emerging designers, sustainable shopping, and celebrity style. Read more ⮕

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