British designer Phoebe Philo quits fashion label Celine

Models present creations by Philo as part of her Spring/Summer 2018 ready-to-wear collection for Celine.
Models present creations by Philo as part of her Spring/Summer 2018 ready-to-wear collection for Celine.PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS (AFP) - British-born designer Phoebe Philo said on Friday (Dec 22) that she is quitting Celine, the French fashion house that she has led for the last decade.

Rumours had been swirling since October about the 44-year-old designer, who created a cult following at the label for her hip minimalist style.

Many have talked of her as a possible successor for Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel, despite there being little sign that the 84-year-old is ready to surrender his scissors.

"It's been amazing. Working with Celine has been an exceptional experience for me these last 10 years," Philo said in a statement announcing her departure.

Her exit is the latest in a merry-go-around of departures at the top of the fashion world, with some fearing that the hectic pace of the industry is burning designers out.

Philo made her name as number two to the young Stella McCartney at Chloe, and was known for her no-nonsense approach.

Like McCartney, she is a vegetarian who banned fur from her collections, though she continued to use leather at Celine.

Fashion critic Sophie Fontanel of the French L'Obs magazine mourned her departure, saying she was the "opposite of marketing... it's her clothes themselves that are the thunder.

"Everything is practical and original, sober and sophisticated, of the moment and yet ageless.... It is hard to see Celine without Phoebe Philo," she added.

Philo reportedly flirted with taking the helm at Louis Vuitton in 2011 after the departure of Marc Jacobs, but decided to stay on at Celine.

Bernard Arnault, the owner of the LVMH luxury good empire which owns Celine, said he was still committed to the brand despite her exit.

"What Phoebe has accomplished over the past 10 years represents a key chapter in the history of Celine.

"A new era of development will now start and I am extremely confident in the future success of this iconic house," he added.