'Act Two: Jamie Bochert' by Willy Vanderperre for Dazed Spring Summer 2014.
PHOEBE PHILO A REAL LIFE interview by TIM BLANKS
For years we’ve wanted to interview Phoebe Philo for Purple, and we are extremely happy that the British designer is finally ready to tell us more about her current state of mind. Formerly Creative Director at Chloé, she decided to take a two-year hiatus from fashion to devote time to her family. Once back at work, she took over and entirely reinvented the French fashion house Céline, creating lines of clothing that are fresh, unconventional, totally modern, elegantly sexy, visually surprising, and perfectly classic in an understated Parisian way that we like and admire. This is not only the result of her personal talent: Phoebe Philo has a strong work ethic and an uncompromising attitude that comes from the ’90s, when she got her rigueur and an obession for what she calls “real women.” Tim Blanks met her in her London studio, right after she showed her first collection following the birth of her third child. “I’m happy to be part of the conversation, but I do believe it’s all in the clothes, that stuff,” says Philo just as we start talking. “What we’re doing now is not necessary,” she continues, then she goes to the bathroom, to the point that I wonder if she’ll even come back. Which isn’t to say that she isn’t great company — droll as hell, quick to laugh, and hopelessly addicted to Chapstick. Her office, at Céline’s in London, in a stately Georgian house on Cavendish Square, hints at other worlds. Against one wall, a tired-glam tiger-print couch bought off the street for £10. Against another, a very smart piece by Mexican artist José Dávila featuring Marcel Duchamp precisely excised from a photograph, leaving just his silhouette. (The there/not there thing is very Phoebe.) And on the facing wall: a diamond-dust portrait of Joseph Beuys by Andy Warhol.
Phoebe Philo The glitter. I tried to make a fabric like it, but it’s real diamond dust, so I couldn’t.
Tim Blanks. How do you do fabric research?
At the moment, we’re in the process of archiving fabrics that I always return to: wools, felts, wool silks, cottons, classic fabrics that have been used over a long time in fashion. Parallel to that we develop technical fabrics, polyesters, nylons, lycras, horsehair, glitter, whatever it needs to be. I am into the idea of protecting a sense of the core, a Céline hand based in classicism.
What kind of classicism?
I find it reassuring to use fabrics that perform in a very honest, straightforward way. I like fabrics that are what they are. I find that comforting and inspiring.
How much of that is to do with insecurity?
As a person I have insecurities and as I get older, what I’m explaining re: fabric is relevant in lots of areas of my life. When I feel insecure I try and build safety around it. I’m not very good at being insecure and not knowing where it’s going to lead.
You’re very careful about revealing too much about yourself, and yet surely that happens every time you do a show. Isn’t it masochistic to do something that is simultaneously so pleasurable for you and yet so painful in a way?
There is a level of that. I push myself to go to places I don’t always want to go to and naturally in that process I expose myself. When I show my clothes I’m not among my 10 best friends so there is a baring of souls. Fashion never stops. Whatever happens, literally the show must go on, the date is set and whether we’re ready or not we have to do a show on that day. It is a love-hate relationship. It’s challenging sometimes and not that easy, but it’s also what makes it so intense and thrilling.
Is it easier sometimes more than others?
Every show has its own story. I’ve never had two shows the same.
seperate and equal
“in belgium,” says olivier theyskens, “we can’t do anything where the spirit isn’t ours.”
from left: model roos van bosstraeten in theysken’s white strapless gown (seated); masked models in raf simons’ white clothing: bernhard willhelm, an oost in willhelm’s white cotton dress; véronique branquinho; model hannelore knuts in branquinho’s black tuxedo and turtleneck; dries van noten; kim peers in van noten’s tan silk dress; ann demeulemeester; model ann catherine lacroix in demeulemeester’s white wool belted coat; filip arickx and an vandevorst; anouck lepere (reclining) in a.f. vandevorst purple silk dress.
edit: someone, SOMEONE, has to link me up to the full spread. please!
photo Bert Houbrechts
based on the double life of Laura Palmer in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks
"the most important thing for me to recognise is that a woman is a very complex person… every woman has a mystery inside her… I like this black side of people. Black minds, black moods, black clothes: I like the word and I like the emotion. That’s what I try to reflect. It’s romance for the doom generation."
Dries Van Noten (1986)
Egon Schiele, Seated Boy (1910) X Saskia de Brauw by Hedi Slimane for Saint Laurent