Many of today’s fashion brands claim to design for the “modern woman” – a female figure who works during the day and becomes a mother by the time she gets home. This idea of the contemporary busybody has become an integral target for many designers and brands who aim to create a wardrobe for today’s female population. Decades ago, during the heyday of haute couture, the central woman in every designer’s eye was the elegant homebody, whose clothes helped enhance her beauty more than anything else. Now, the woman needs a wardrobe of comfort, practicality, and style, all in equal measure, Such an aesthetic was first introduced by Céline.
Beginnings and the Uphill Slope to Success
The company began as a children’s shoe store on 52 rue Malte in Paris in 1945. It was founded by a husban-wife-tandem of Céline Vipiana and Richard. By the 1960’s, the label has branched out into ready-to-wear, offering simple fashion staples and some hints of sportswear. Vipiana also designed a series of other goods including gloves, loafers, bags, and other accessories, all with the aesthetic principles of their ready-to-wear collections. Even during their early years, the brand was already focused on giving practical and comfortable clothing, which at that time were heavily in contrast to the more elaborate couture collections other fashion houses were offering.
In 1964, the label released its first fragrance named “Vent fou”. A few years later, the company opened its first leather goods factory in Florence, which eventually helped them become a premier luxury goods label for the rest of the 10th century. They also expanded throughout the remaining decades, opening stores in cities like Hong Kong, Beverly Hills, Monte Carlo, Toronto, and Geneva. In 1987, the label was acquired by LVMH, the world’s largest luxury holdings group. With their help, the brand expanded tenfold has become a prominent luxury fashion label worldwide.
In 1997, the namesake founder retired from the brand, replaced by American designer Michael Kors. With a similar approach to his designs in his namesake label in New York, Kors was able to push Céline more into the fashion forefront. He created easy, comfortable, and chic, establishing new codes of the house that his successors would eventually follow. In 2005, Italian designer Roberto Menichetti briefly held the helm at the house before being replaced by Croatian designer Ivana Omazic a year later. She would also only stay in the house briefly before resigning in 2008. She was replaced by British designer Phoebe Philo in 2008.
Impact on Fashion
Today, Céline is more known because of the design contributions of Phoebe Philo. From the early 2010’s onward, Philo created a minimalist aesthetic that became the hottest trend in the fashion industry for many years. She also brought back camel, which soon became a signature color for the label. Her simple approach to design, paired with her glorious cuts and exquisite tailoring, lead Céline to become the most talked about the label in all the industry. During Paris Fashion Week, the brand’s womenswear show would always be a key event during the entire Fashion Month. Her work for the brand gained her the title “the working woman’s designer”.
Similarly to other female designers, Philo’s approach to creating collections for Céline is that they are clothes she herself would want to wear. Such was the success of similar designers like Stella McCartney, Donna Karan, and Carolina Herrera. But with Philo for Céline, her ingenuity when it came to different silhouettes, her treatment of various textiles, all the while creating pieces that were both rich in design and highly-comfortable, became a hit for women all over the world. Even with its strong luxury goods sector, Céline ready-to-wear remained the best-selling part of the label, unheard of for any LVMH brand.
Various Clientele From the Big Screen to Magazines
Unsurprisingly, through the years, Céline has amassed a faithful following of famous faces and some of the most prominent women in the world. A handful of A-list celebrities have been spotted donning many of the label’s iconic handbag, especially their most famous “Trapeze” silhouette. Actresses like Kerry Washington and Nicole Kidman, pop stars Rihanna and Demi Lovato, as well as pop culture influencers Kim Kardashian and Nicky Hilton have all been seen carrying a Céline bag on multiple occasions. Meanwhile, prominent fashion editors like Vanessa Friedman and Mimma Viglezio have donned Céline ready-to-wear, especially on the front row of the label’s shows.
Among all the labels operating today, none have become as important for the working woman quite like Céline has been for the past few years. From their array of minimal yet impactful designs to the quality of their leather goods and accessories, the brand has become a haven for modern muses to get their wardrobe. But now that Philo has exited the brand and Hedi Slimane will take over, only time will tell what will happen to the brand, especially under a designer who’s known for breaking the rules and revolutionizing a fashion house altogether.