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從Phoebe Philo離任Celine,看真正的領袖 Phoebe Philo-What Makes a Good Leader?

​There has been a lot of big news sweeping the fashion scene this New Year. Fashion and design have so many similarities. As a maven, I can’t wait to talk about it. Kim Jones has announced he’s leaving Louis Vuitton. Phoebe Philo, who has served for a decade as creative director at Céline, is leaving as well. Rumor has it she will be taking over Karl Lagerfeld’s position at the helm of Chanel, but the 84-year-old Lagerfeld doesn’t seem quite ready to put down the scissors just yet. A lot of people who fell in love with Céline because of Philo don’t know what to do with themselves. It feels just like it did when Alber Elbaz left Lanvin in 2015.


新一年,時裝圈傳來不少大消息,時裝跟設計關係密不可分,我這個設計迷當然也留意這方面的消息。Louis Vuitton的Kim Jones宣布離任; 而在Celine擔任十載設計總監的Phoebe Philo也公布了離任消息。有傳,她將接任Karl Lagerfeld的Chanel總舵位置,但84歲的Lagerfeld似乎還未有意交出其裁縫剪刀,對於一眾因Philo而愛上Celine的粉絲來說,還是不知何去何從。這種感覺,跟Alber Elbaz於2015年離開Lanvin也是同出一轍。

The Pre-Fall 2018 series, to be released this month in Paris, will be her farewell. / 本月底在巴黎發布的Pre-Fall 2018系列,將會是其告別作。

This also reveals an interesting phenomenon, which is that in the fashion world, we’re now in an era when designers are bigger than brands. For me, this represents progress, not regression. It’s just like how people who really understand cinema no longer care about big stars or big productions, but instead follow the directors. They trust in that person’s taste, and are sure that they will shine no matter what stage they perform on. You need kindred spirits to produce master directors like Akira Kurosawa.


這也反映出一個有趣現象,就是時裝界,已來到設計師比品牌更大的一個時代。對我來說,這代表時代進步,而不是倒退。就正如,真正懂得欣賞電影的人,看久了,看的再也不是大明星或大制作,而是跟著導演走,相信一個人的品味,無論去到哪一個舞台也能發光發亮。有知音,才能成就像黑澤明這些大師級導演。

With her upturned collar, sweater, wide-leg trousers and Stan Smith shoes, Philo is her own best spokesperson. / 樽領毛衣、闊腳褲加一雙Stan Smith,Philo自己本身就是品牌的最佳代言人。

No matter how glamorous the brand, it is just a stage. The relationship between the brand and its leading mind can be described as highly complex: without a designer, there can be no brand, but without the brand’s resources, the designer can’t let their imagination run wild and make their dreams a reality. Philo and Elbaz both served their brands with sweat and tears for many years. In Philo’s case, her joining Céline in 2008 transformed it from a second or third rate brand for shoes, sandals and accessories into a hot fashion label. Revenue quadrupled with her at the helm. Philo, who previously worked at Chloé, is a brand savior, a creativity leader, and, more importantly, a uniquely talented designer. Her flowing cuts, elegant colors and timeless designs established a distinctive style for Céline that maintained the brand’s “noble elegance” and “Paris style.” Philo spent ten years shaping the aesthetic roots of the Céline brand. She has said she placed great emphasis on continuity, while also searching for Céline’s unique personality. The key words for her design are: consciousness, sensitivity, cloth, discarding the bad for the good, freshness, refinement, caution and attitude. If these things can be planted into the brand’s DNA, then her departure won’t cause Céline to deflate like a balloon.


品牌再亮麗,其實也只是個舞台,品牌與其創意主腦的關係,可算是千絲萬縷的:沒有設計師,就沒有品牌;沒有品牌的資源,設計師也不能隨心所欲,創造自己心目中的理想。剛才提到的Philo和Elbaz,都是在品牌中灌注了多年心血的功臣,以Philo為例,她於2008年加盟後,就讓Celine從一個二三線的鞋履首飾品牌,搖身一變成當今最炙手可熱的時裝大牌,業績更在她帶領下翻了四倍。前身任職Chloe的Philo,是品牌的救星、一個創新的創意領袖,更是不可多得的設計師,其流線型剪裁、素雅的用色和不花巧的干練設計,為Celine奠下了極其鮮明的風格,但同時不失品牌「貴族優雅」和「巴黎風尚」的特質。Philo花了十載為Celine打造的美學根基,正如她說過,她著重連貫性,還有找出Celine獨樹一幟的個性:覺悟、敏銳、布料、去蕪存菁、新穎、精煉、謹慎和態度,是她設計的關鍵詞。要是能植根成品牌的基因,那麼她的離開,就不會令Celine變成泄氣氣球。

In her ten years at Céline, Philo has created many classics, with her wide-leg trousers beloved by many women, providing a neutral look with a feminine feel. / Philo在Celine十年,出過不少經典設計,闊腳褲成了不少女性的恩物,中性之餘不失女性韻味。

A true leader isn’t someone who establishes some highly visible achievements in a short time. Instead, you have to see whether they can, in their limited time at the helm, create an autonomous system and style of execution to the point that it can continue its successful formula or create new ones no matter who is in charge. Of course, this is easier said than done. Sometimes a major brand can’t even hang onto their sign. It is too early to say who will be taking charge of Céline, or whether it can stay hot. Behind every leader is a host of servants. What matters is whether they can build something lasting, like Qin Shihuang, who united the six kingdoms, or Confucius, who had countless disciples.


真正的領袖,不是在短時間內建功立業,而是要看他能否在其有限的任期內,建立一套獨立運行的系統和做事風格,以至將來無論由誰接任,也可以延續或創新其成功的方程式。當然,這說易行難,大品牌有時候,連招牌也幾乎保不住。Celine往後由誰接任,能否保持人氣,現在也許還是言之尚早。一個領袖,身後是一朝天子一朝臣,還是能做到千秋萬世,才是其功績的精要,就如統一六國的秦始皇和萬世師表孔子的分別。