Fashion Turmoil for 2018 as Phoebe Philo Exits Céline

Phoebe Philo’s Céline
CreditPhotograph by Karim Sadli. Styled by Joe McKenna.

Just before the holiday, Phoebe Philo, artistic director of Céline, announced that she is leaving the house. A replacement was not named at the time, leaving turmoil heading into 2018 and the New Year. This is significant fashion news; Phoebe Philo’s 10 years as artistic director at Céline redefined what women aspire to wear, with her minimalist aesthetic, clean lines, and tonal color palette gaining traction with critics and consumers. She stripped away the fuss in fashion and what remained were the clothes, powerful in their simplicity. Philo inspired a new kind of power dressing; a quiet way of making a statement, where the clothes do not overpower but reveal how women really want to see themselves – sophisticated and knowledgeable. There is a Céline uniform: large, slouchy trousers; a collarless shirt; flats; a tuxedo jacket — preferably in navy, black or cream. Quite simply, Philo transformed Céline into her own image and gave the brand a new relevance.

The news of Philo’s departure comes at a time when other fashion houses are in transition. We will have to see what 2018 holds for Céline and for the fashion industry.

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Behind the Birkenstocks – One Man’s Story

Courtesy T Magazine: Photo Credit

Tom Lonergan in his studio – Courtesy, T Magazine: Photo – Aaron M. Conway

I discovered a gem of a story in T: The New York Times Style Magazine about Tom Lonergan and his booming business as an independent repairman for the shoe company, Birkenstock. Here is a man who, after retiring from real estate 10 years ago, was looking for something to “keep him ‘out of trouble,'” had worn Birkenstocks himself, and enjoyed working with his hands. The company offered him a trial license as an authorized repairman as long as he agreed to buy the equipment necessary, which he did. Lonergan knew nothing about the rise in popularity of the Birkenstock sandal a few years ago (thanks in part to Céline’s Spring/Summer 2013 collection), or how it has grown to be a fashion hit in places like New York and L.A.; in fact, he has no idea about couture, or  fashion trends and fads, or when this shoe went from ugly to super-cute.

What he does know is his craft – repairing over 1,000 pairs a year – that Birkenstock customers are long-standing and loyal. And that the business of repairing Birks may be going to the dogs. Says Lonergan, “The people who’ve been loyal wearers are really good customers. Plus, there’s always the dogs. People love Birks, but dogs love Birks. I probably get three phone calls a week where the dog has destroyed a pair.”

The Birkenstock Doctor, written by Alex Ronan, appeared in T Magazine on August 28, 2015.



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High school girls represent

Leaders of the Fashion Club and the Diversity Club: from left, Linden, Denver, Anisa and Ashley

Co-Presidents of the Fashion Club: Linden, Denver, and Ashley, and the Diversity Council,  Anisa (missing: Shayla, Diversity Council)

As you know, I am the mother of teenage boys. I wouldn’t trade that for anything, but there are times when I really miss having important conversations with young women. That is why writing Turning Fashion Inside Out continues to bring me so much joy. Today was one of those days, and I was honored to join a meeting with a group of spirited and thoughtful high school women of Kent Place School. The meeting was a combined effort of the Fashion Club and the Diversity Council and the topic was diversity (or lack thereof) in the fashion industry.

The leaders first identified startling facts and then they opened the floor for discussion, feedback and conversation. The facts are these: that even though white people represent only 16% of the global population, white people dominate the runway at 94.6%. There is a very small representation of women of color on the runway, including black, Asian and Latina models. Continue reading

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