Interviewed by Liam Hess, Photographed by Alexia Cayre
I think the last time I spoke to you was right at the beginning of lockdown, and here we are a few months later. I remember at the time it was all still very up in the air, there was a lot of uncertainty about how things were going to operate in terms of putting out collections and stuff, but I see that you managed it. Did the lockdown experience and what unfolded over the past few months politically shape it in any way?

I think it reaffirmed it. It became something that felt much more timely and politically driven than it was originally going to be.

When it came to the self-portrait series featuring the AW20 collection that you did for this issue of REPLICA, were you thinking about the archetypes of American and French sartorial identity you explored in the runway show?

I made them with a good friend of mine, and it was very chill. We just did them over a couple of evenings around my neighborhood and in my apartment. I mean the Barry Lyndon shot with the candles is so ridiculous. [laughs] I think we were just thinking about doing all the different characters that were hiding in that collection, and then separating them all. There's the Romantic poet, the American pioneer woodchucker dude, there's a weird forest elf situation happening at one point. For the poet one I definitely wanted to do the full romance novel hero, and really go for it on that one, but I kind of left it up to my friend. I just got a bunch of samples that I thought would be interesting to play with, she brought a medium format camera and all this gear which I didn't anticipate, and then it was like, right, let's go! We just played around.
There's a certain energy I think that you can only get when you do something with your good friends, it's a very different energy to being on a shoot with a stylist you don't know, and a hair and makeup team, this uncomfortable environment. This was just like being at my house playing dress-up with my friend. I just tried to have a bit of fun with all the different versions of PHIPPS that we always play with in the show.

Obviously sustainability has always been a huge part of the PHIPPS philosophy from the very beginning, but I was wondering if the pandemic and the challenges of the past few months made those priorities feel more urgent in any way?

There was definitely a slight sense of validation, as well as a continued sense of purpose. I think that the rest of the industry is now having these conversations in a more serious way, and some have approached me and asked me, how have you done these things? Which is great. I feel very strongly about what we've been doing, and I feel like we're in a very good position to move forward from here.
How was the process of putting together the film you made for SS21 under lockdown?

It's been amazing. Obviously, making that film was such a labor of love. It was just so rewarding, because the message is quite personal. I started working on it actually before lockdown. But the idea was really about trying to make a difference in American politics, but without being there and without being able to get involved on the ground. I'm here in France making fashion, which seems like a million miles away, but at the same time there's a possibility it could be influential in some small way, I hope.
What were some of the aspects of American identity you wanted to explore or pick up on this time around?

We looked at the Golden Age of Hollywood, that was a big part of it. All the different characters found around that, from Marlon Brando to Paul Newman to Clint Eastwood in the Westerns. Elvis, you know, these really big cliches that have become these resounding standards of American style.

I noticed you have a new website now also, which allows for a stronger sense of storytelling around the brand. Do you feel like it's an opportunity to keep growing the PHIPPS community?

Yeah, I definitely want to develop that. I mean, it's not like we're blowing up in some crazy, Vetements-style way, where it's an instant hit and people are obsessing about it, but we have this community around us that is constantly and steadily growing, and I feel like it's people who really get the brand, there's a real bond. They're fans, you know, they're like proper fans, people can get very emotional about it. So I feel a certain sense of responsibility also, just to do right by them and build this properly, and not to start cutting corners to make money. I just want to keep pushing this storytelling, and make it even clearer to the rest of the world that we're working on something really interesting.