Fashion / Fashion Feature

Searching for Celine: A guide to finding archival pieces from Phoebe Philo’s Celine

old céline

We've said it before and we'll say it again: it's Phoebe Philo's world, and the good folk of the fashion industry are simply living in it. The lasting effect Philo has had on practically everything she touches has been momentous, we saw this during her tenure at Chloé, but never stronger than it was when she flipped Céline on its head, and made it one of the most covetable, women-first brands of the 2010s. When she stepped down from her post as creative director of the French brand in 2017, the industry went into a death spiral, and the hole she left was never quite filled - no matter how hard minimalist brands, and Daniel Lee, has tried.

The hold that she has had on us has transcended time, and Philo-era "old Céline" is one of the most coveted archival fashion pieces one could own in the modern age. So much so, that there are whole Instagram pages dedicated to hunting down such pieces. Pioneering the "for women, by women" tagline that so many women-run companies have now latched onto, Philo was there from the beginning, designing and creating a humble tribute to female form and function with clothing that, with quality in mind, transcended time and trends. Throwing down the gauntlet for fashion's look of choice in the 2010s, Philo's agnostic attitude towards trends was exactly what catapulted Céline to success.

Gabriel Waller knows of the Philo-effect more than anyone. As a professional luxury buyer to some of fashion's most notable names, her career was skyrocketed off the back of a Céline coat that Waller sourced for Rosie Huntington-Whiteley some years ago. Since, she has carved out a niche in the industry for those looking to secure sold-out, discontinued, and hard to find designer items like no one else.

With her first big breakthrough moment being so intrinsically tied to Philo's Céline, below, Waller shares her expertise on how to find and purchase archival pieces from Phoebe Philo's Céline.

 

Where does one start when sourcing archival designer pieces without professional help?

There are so many incredible private dealers working in this space currently that have become my go-to's when sourcing archival designer pieces. Some have been introduced through mutual friends, and others have been found predominately through Instagram - I do feel that is where the majority of them are running their businesses, Instagram has a world of talent waiting to be discovered. My recommendation would be to connect with some of these smaller independent businesses, get to know whose running it, seek through their page to see what they have sold previously, and any clients that have shared an enjoyable experience (whether that be through their story highlights or tagged stories). I do feel getting to know who is running the page prior to making your first purchase is important, as you want to gauge their knowledge within the vintage space. It can be a flooded market so you want to ensure you are purchasing from a reputable seller, who has a great reputation and a world of knowledge.

 

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Are there any spots or sites you have found where old Céline is frequently listed?

I have a very special soft spot for the world of old Céline, as I do feel it is what set my career into the spotlight in the very early days. I'll never forget the adrenaline rush of sourcing the now-iconic old Céline alphabet necklaces, it was madness. In addition to scouring reputable resell websites, I wouldn't be afraid of reaching out to individuals via Instagram to express your interest in any Céline pieces that they own and that you are interested in. There is such a strong old Céline community now, and I feel there is an immediate connection when you begin talking together about some of Phoebe's now-iconic looks. You never know who might be willing to sell what item at any given time. Reach out, express your interest, the worst thing that can happen is that they say no. Outside of that, @oldcelinearchive is one of my favourites - Martina who runs it is truly incredible, I highly recommend.

 

Are there any red flags to avoid when sourcing archival designer?

What's important to me is having a strong knowledge of the item that I'm purchasing - where was it purchased, and when? Do you have the original receipt? What is the condition of the item? Are the tags still attached (miraculous if they are!)?. These are the types of questions that I'm asking and want to know, prior to ever offering it to my client. If the seller is unable to answer the basics, it would be a red flag to me.

 

How do you know when to pounce or pass?

Sometimes it comes down to price, if I find a dream item but I know the price is astronomical (very high above the original retail price), I will often move on as I wouldn't feel comfortable with my client paying that. With that said, this industry works very fast. What could be available now, could also be sold in 5 minutes. For me personally, if the item is in excellent condition, the price is reasonable, and it is a true collector's piece, I would pounce immediately.

 

Is it worth sifting through vintage stores?

Absolutely, you can find some real hidden gems within various vintage stores globally. My mind immediately jumps to Paris and the high number of vintage stores that they have there, it won't be long now until we're all back there sifting through the clothing racks - all thanks to our borders now being open!

 

Where to shop:

Old Céline Archive

 

Shop Old Céline 

 

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image: @oldceline