By  on January 5, 2006

PARIS - Phoebe Philo's reign at Chloé is over.

The designer, who helped catapult the growth of the Parisian brand with coveted handbag designs and feminine frocks, today will announce she is resigning from the firm for personal reasons, according to market sources.

WWD first reported on Nov. 22 that Philo was eyeing the door.

Rather than any explosive conflict, Philo's desire to spend more time with her family and new baby, Maya, was increasingly at odds with the demands of one of the fastest-growing European fashion houses.

A successor is not expected to be announced immediately and the fall collection, to be presented here in March, will be designed by the in-house team, one source said.

That team - Sara Jowett, Natasha Lee, Valeska Duetsch, Adrian Appiolaza and Yvan Mispelaere - filled in for Philo during her maternity leave and took a bow on the runway in her stead last March.

However, a search for a successor to Philo is said to be under way, with all options being considered, from a team effort to internal promotion.

Rumors already have been swirling, with Roland Mouret floated as a potential candidate. But informed sources said no contact has been made between Chloé chairman and chief executive Ralph Toledano and the London-based designer.

Neither Philo nor Toledano could be reached for comment Tuesday.

Chloé has been one of fashion's fastest-growing brands in recent years. When Johann Rupert, chairman of Chloé parent Richemont, reported first-half profits in November, he vaunted the brand's strong performance.

"This business has outperformed its peers, more than doubling sales in the six months under review," he commented. "Chloé is developing its wholesale business and rolling out its international retail expansion program."

The company just unveiled a second store in Paris, on the Avenue Montaigne, which it plans to fete in January during the Paris couture.

Last year, Chloé inaugurated boutiques in Kuwait; Costa Mesa, Calif.; Beijing, and Shanghai. This month, a new flagship will open in Tokyo, in the heart of the Aoyama district.

Market sources estimate the brand generates wholesale volume of $300 million. But ambitions are much higher. Last year, Richemont confirmed it would invest "tens of millions of euros" as part of an effort to make Chloé a billion-dollar player.

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