PARIS – Phoebe Philo is trading fashion fame for motherhood – at least for now.
As expected, the designer on Thursday confirmed her exit from Chloé, saying, “My decision to resign is for personal reasons, especially to spend more time with my new baby in the coming months.”
In December 2004, Philo gave birth to Maya, the first child for her and her husband, London art dealer Max Wigram. Philo declined to comment beyond a written statement, in which she thanked the house for “giving me the opportunity to develop as a designer.”
For his part, Ralph Toledano, chairman and chief executive officer of Chloé, also limited his comments to the release, saying he respects Philo’s “choice to focus on her family at this point in her life, and [we] wish her all the best.”
While family issues were preeminent, the demands and stress of helming a brand embarking on an ambitious expansion drive exacted a personal toll on Philo and also played a role in her choice, sources said.
“She’s very talented, but she can’t handle big companies,” said one industry source. “She’s too fragile. My guess is that she will come back [to the fashion industry] after a while, but on a much smaller scale.”
While a search for Philo’s successor continues, her team will take the creative reins for Paris Fashion Week in March, as it did during her maternity leave. “Our design team has successfully worked independently on previous collections and I totally trust their creative ability to produce the upcoming Chloé collection,” Toledano said in the statement.
A graduate of London’s Central Saint Martins, Philo worked with Stella McCartney at McCartney’s own label in London. She moved to Chloé in 1997 when McCartney was named the label’s designer. She succeeded her four years later when McCartney set out to build her own brand with Gucci Group.
She quickly became one of fashion’s rising stars, acclaimed for a style that deftly blends masculine elements like trousers and such feminine fare as frilly blouses. During her tenure, Chloé’s look has been widely emulated by fast-fashion chains and the company’s leather goods business has been explosive thanks to hit styles like the Paddington and Silverado handbags.
The behind-the-scenes turmoil has not disrupted the success of Chloé, which continues to open retail stores in Asia, Europe and North America. Market sources estimated the brand generates wholesale volume of $300 million, and Richemont chairman Johann Rupert singled it out as a star performer as the Swiss luxury goods group reported strong sales and earnings in its first half.