Celine    Phoebe Philo

A Petition for Phoebe Philo to Revive the Luggage Bag?

It's time to bring back the icon of Old Céline to its glory days.

Very much a product of Gen Z with a twist (and by twist, of course, I refer to the back pain I have from years of ∼ consistently ∼ poor posture), I have to confess that, as much as I like to harp about Y2K aesthetics and an early-aughts Chloë Sevigny, I was very much absent from the actual scene at the time of its unraveling.

So absent, in fact, that at the height of the noughties it-bag mania, there was simply no way the Chloé Paddington could have held greater significance in my life as a toddler of four than the latest episode of Teletubbies.

But as the 2010s rolled around – and to the collective frenzy of the fashion crowd, so did the now-infamous Céline Luggage – the bag, or at least its unmistakable winged silhouette, had become integral to my existence. I knew those flared gussets and that winking robot face by sight long before I’d come to know of Céline or Ms. Philo, thanks, in no small part, to the oodles of imitations that have since proliferated.

Celebs and Celine Luggage Totes 30
Karolina Kurkova is my spirit animal.

That’s also why, long after it has dropped off of fashionistas’ radars, I continue to harbor a major handbag crush towards the Phantom Luggage in black mock-croc. 

So, as onerous it might be to envision the purse as an entity distinct from the fur vests, peplum tops, skinny jeans, and platform heels of the time (all of which are now back yet again), today I make the case for the Luggage to return to the top.

The only difference? I’d like Ms. Philo herself to resurrect it for her namesake label.

Screaming, Shaking, Crying, Throwing Up

Much has been said about Miss Phoebe Philo’s latest label, Phoebe Philo

If you’re complaining about its prices, you clearly aren’t in the right income bracket (although, as the designer explains in her new NYT profile, “The intention, really, is that the pieces stick around for a while. And that tends to come at a price point.”) 

Celine Box Bag Old Celine
Celine Luggage Ad Spring 2011

If you’re complaining about the plainness of design, your luxury brand isn’t quite quiet enough. And if you haven’t compulsively purchased every item from the three drops (or edits, as they’re called) she’s had so far, you’re likely not Kendall Jenner.

Really, however, what stands out amidst all of the flurry and the furor is the intense emotional attachment her fans, the self-anointed Philophiles, have had since she departed from C(é)line nearly seven years ago, leaving an impressive legacy in her wake in the form of the 17 runway collections she’d launched during her tenure.

But as her new line dropped late last year – to the feverish hysteria of her disciples – one thing became increasingly clear: Philo herself could not escape from (at least some of the) pervasiveness of her Old Céline influence.

The Philo Philosophy of Fashion

Now, a lot of Philo’s current pieces have been nothing short of groundbreaking, especially when it comes to the ready-to-wear and that viral MUM necklace. 

But aside from her bolder new aesthetic in the form of loose jeans (un)zipping up to one’s nether regions and $2,000 padded neck braces that are actually giant silk scarves, the new Phoebe Philo handbags have felt, for the most part, derivative; a continuation of her previous body of work at Céline than something entirely new.

This is, of course, not to discredit her contribution to fashion. In fact, Philo has famously been known to enjoy defying expectations, confounding buyers who try to compartmentalize her to the realm of minimal tailoring, and putting unexpected touches where people expect it the least (generally to their delight).

It makes sense, therefore, that she tries to bank on the successes of the very (now-iconic) silhouettes that had worked so well for her back at Céline, all the more since much of it is now discontinued

The $3,500 Gig Bag from her first edit, A1, appears to take clear inspiration from the überpopular Trio bag from the Céline Spring 2011 collection. On the other hand, the Drive Bag retailing via the site for $5,800 is, for all intents and purposes, a quilted variant of the Spring 2017 Céline Clasp bag.

Celine Bags Spring 2017
Spot the Difference:
Phoebe Philo Drive Bag
The Céline Clasp Bag vs. the Phoebe Philo Drive Bag

Similarly, a new Bean Bag unveiled in Philo’s last drop plays on the Céline Spring 2014 Hobo Bag; the $8,500 XL Cabas shares quite the likeness with the former’s Horizontal Cabas, and even the Kit Cabas’ statement closure renders it a trendy, east/west version of the classic Céline Box Bag

The Easter eggs, it seems, are endless. 

So, Hypothetically, Why Not the Luggage?

But ask any handbag-lover, and they’ll tell you: the crown jewel of Phoebe Philo’s Céline was undoubtedly the Luggage tote

Since its launch in 2009, it’s been owned by, quite frankly, everybody who was anybody, from being serenaded by Serena Williams across the Wimbledon Centre Court and jet-setted around the globe by the Kardashian-Jenners to being given the “messy Birkin” treatment by the Olsen sisters and the Lindsay Lohan.

And at one point, it truly did appear to be en route to becoming the next Birkin. 

Unsurprisingly, it has remained a part of Celine’s permanent collection for over a decade, with the Micro size selling for $3,300, a far cry from when the (now-discontinued) Mini once retailed at $1,750.

Lindsay Lohan
Lindsay Lohan with her well-loved Luggage

But if rumors are to be believed, the Luggage is slowly on its way out, no longer a part of Hedi Slimane’s vision for new Celine, many deeming it a disappointingly dated design harking back to Kim Kardashian’s pre-Botox days.

And that’s a real shame, for beneath the wide-brimmed hats and infinity scarves, the Luggage, in my opinion, is still deceptively modern. It’s merely the early-2010s styling that caused all the bad rap. And it’s only Ms. Philo, with her site policy offering “notably less than anticipated want,” who can restore it to its days of glory.

After all, it’s not the planned obsolescence and hyperfast trend cycles that we want but the pricelessness of a forever piece. A Luggage to lug through life, if you will.

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