- The Origin: Céline Vipiana
- Acquired By LVMH
- Michael Kors
- The Poulbot Bag
- A Hard Time
- Phoebe Philo
- Current Situation
Céline has a long and deep-rooted history in the world of fashion. The first boutique was opened by Céline Vipiana and her husband, Richard at 52 rue Malte in Paris. Together they created one of the first luxury brands in the industry, Céline, a made-to-measure children’s shoe business. Then, year after year, the maison’s success allowed it to expand. Céline Vipiana remained the designer from 1945-1997.
In 1960, the brand changed positioning and began focusing on a women’s ready-to-wear fashion brand with a sportswear approach. In 1963 it presented a women’s shoe line, and 1966 saw the début of a leather collection. In 1973, Céline redesigned its logo with the intertwined “C” Sulky canvas, linked to the Parisian symbol, Arc-de-Triomphe.
In 1996 the brand was officially acquired by LVMH, Bernard Arnault, which owned several luxury and fashion brands, for $540 million. At this time, LVMH made the brand popular and opened a boutique on 36 avenue Montaigne in Paris.
The firm, guided by Nan Lergeai, the person at Dior responsible for the Far East, began a policy of opening single-brand boutiques all over the world, with particular attention to the Asian and American markets.
In 1997 American fashion designer Michael Kors was named the first ever women’s ready-to-wear designer and creative director for Céline. After he was hired, the brand quickly evolved, and in May 2001 the company opened their first single-brand boutique in London, at the prime address New Bond Street. Then, in August the Isetan Museum in Tokyo dedicates a retrospective to Céline illustrating the maison’s style from 1945 to the present day, highlighting the changes made in 1997 with the arrival of artistic director Michael Kors.
The celebrated Grant bag, very successful in the 1960s, is the main feature, and it is sewn right in front of visitors in a miniature cardboard version. The pieces on sale are limited and numbered, personalized with the buyer’s name.
In September 2001 with the advent of the single European currency, Céline creates a dedication to the euro with a collection of accessories decorated with the twelve coins which are to be issued. After London and Antwerp, Club Céline arrives in Italy, in the new boutique opened in Galleria Cavour in Bologna. The firm expects to open 100 more points-of-sale by the end of the year.
In May 2003 the new Céline bag is called Poulbot. This name is almost unknown, and derives from Francisque Poulbot, an contemporary artist with Toulouse-Lautrec, by whom he was inspired when painting the street urchins of Paris. Since that time, poulbot has meant urchin, and the bag is called an “urchin” or “rascal” bag. It hangs like a shoulder bag, bombé and round with seams held together by metallic rivets, made in leather of bright colors such as orange, fuchsia, and electric blue.
Also, Céline offers a mini-Collection inspired by the streets of Paris. The name chosen for the collection, Macadam, is the name of the paving material put down in 1854, an important element in the stylistic identity of the city. The Collection is to last a single season. By this time, Céline has seen a lot of growth and now has 63 boutiques all over the world.
October 2004 Roberto Menichetti makes his début in Paris as the creative director of Céline. He replaces the American Michael Kors as the artistic head of the historic French maison. By May 2005, after only two seasons, the collaboration between the Italian designer and the French maison comes to an end. The separation is consensual.
Later in June, after the opening of the boutique on via Condotti in Rome in 2004, another prestigious store is opened on the very central via Tornabuoni in Florence. It is a nice way to celebrate the griffe‘s 66th anniversary. In the previous four years, the griffe shows a growth in turnover of 50%.
A year later, the Croatian designer, Ivana Omazic, was appointed director of the design studio. He was a former consultant for the brand and previously worked with Prada, Jil Sander and Miu Miu. Omazic designed for Céline until 2008, after further disappointments for the brand.
On September 4, 2008 the LVMH Group names Phoebe Philo as the new creative director and board member of the brand. The designer incorporates her own twist to the brand by drawing attention to the tailoring and materials. Vogue defined the new aesthetic look she brought to the brand as the “cool minimal trend”.
In 2014, the brand is at its peak, when the House opens new flagship stores in Mount Street (London), Avenue Montaigne (Paris), Omotesando (Tokyo), SoHo (New York) and Plaza 66 (Shanghai). At end of 2014, Céline completely renovated its new headquarters at 16 Rue Vivienne, a historical building which was built in 1653. The building is on the national heritage list, originally owned by King Louis XIII and positioned in the heart of Paris.
In 2015, in order to be faithful to the minimalist spirit of Céline, the brand chose one of the legendary American author Joan Didion to be the face of SS15 campaign.
The year 2017 has undergone many changes for Céline, in the beginning of this year, Séverine Merle joined Céline as new CEO. Later in February, the brand finally launched an official Instagram account to strengthen its social media presence.
The official Céline website is one of few fashion website without e-commerce capabilities, but there is no doubt that online sales have become the fashion industry’s most important and promising engine of growth, therefore, on 27th of February, Céline announced plans to launch e-commerce.
In August, Céline entered Indian market for the first time by signing an exclusive partnership with Le Mill, a concept store in Mumbai. Also, after holding the position of creative director in the house for 8 years, Phoebe Philo is preparing to depart from Céline by the end of 2017.