Instead of courting Hollywood, Céline has sought out esoteric partnerships, sponsoring the 2013–14 retrospective at New York’s Museum of Modern Art of German sculptor Isa Genzken, an artist revered by insiders but an enigma to most. Even the brand’s advertisements, photographed by Juergen Teller, appear to echo that stance. After several seasons of featuring the model Daria Werbowy as a sort of proxy for Philo, this season’s campaign includes the 80-year-old author Joan Didion. And in similar spirit, Céline does not have an official Instagram or Twitter feed.

“I feel fashion has overcrowded and has made a lot of noise on the Internet,” Gobbetti says. “I think that being quiet gives more value to what we do.” He adds that Céline’s softer approach has informed the brand’s strategy of distribution: Since he and Philo arrived, they have closed more stores than they have opened, going from 115 in 2008 to 94 today.

“The stores we closed did not reflect our standards,” says Gobbetti. “We evaluated every space and what it meant for the brand. Some did not make sense for us now.”

Nor does he want to participate in the burgeoning sector of luxury e-commerce, where brands like Valentino and Saint Laurent have enthusiastically forged ahead. “We think it is important to touch the clothes—much of what is special is lost on e-commerce,” he says. “We want to control what we do. We control from the design and the production. If we make mistakes they are our own.”

Despite the rapid success of Céline, Gobbetti emphasizes that his goal is to not grow too quickly. “We want to be specialized: We only do four categories or products: ready-to-wear, shoes, bags and costume jewelry,” says Gobbetti. “I don’t expect Céline to have 400 stores. That’s not our path.”


Credit: WSJ. magazine