By Joelle Diderich
Pity Ivana Omazic. The Croatian designer has not even left the building when everyone is already talking about Phoebe Philo, her successor at the French label Celine from next season.
Omazic on Thursday showed her last ready-to-wear collection for Celine, capping a three-year collaboration that has seen her modernize the brand with her take on glamorous sportswear.
She drew on tribal influences for outfits including indigo dip-dyed crinkled voile dresses inspired by the veils of Saharan nomads. A sleek dark gray jersey T-shirt and matching leggings were set off by a wide silver collar and pearls loosely inspired by the Masai tribespeople of Kenya.
"I would like to thank all those who shared with me these wonderful three years," Omazic said in a statement.
Although she has done a creditable job, luxury conglomerate LVMH has unceremoniously dropped Omazic in favor of Philo, a critical favorite who cut her teeth at Chloe before taking time off in 2006 to be with her family.
Pierre-Yves Roussel, chairman and chief executive of LVMH’s fashion division, said it hoped to capitalize on the British designer’s reputation and talent for churning out best-sellers to rapidly grow Celine, which is considered a second-tier brand in its arsenal.
"I think there is potential for very significant growth," he told The Associated Press, noting that Celine has an existing network of some 100 stores, along with a strong brand history and exceptional know-how in the leather goods field.
LVMH has appointed Marco Gobbetti, who rescued Givenchy from a protracted slump, as president and managing director of the label.
Roussel said he started talks with Philo a year ago to discuss plans to launch her own label. But creating a brand from scratch is a costly and risky proposition at the best of times, made all the more so by the international financial crisis.
"The creative project is basically the same as the one she already had in mind, which is very well thought out and is both a creative project and very pragmatic," he said.
"It was while listening to her talk about this project that we gradually said, why start up a brand and struggle to open three shops in the next three years, when we have 100 shops waiting for her collection," he said.
Philo will present her first collection next March for the autumn-winter 2009 season and will stage her first runway show a year from now.