Is Phillip Plein the smartest man in fashion?

NB You may not have even heard of him (yet…)

Think of Cannes, and you’ll probably make a hasty link to the esteemed Cannes film festival; an old school Hollywood meets Riviera love-in. But you would be wrong.

For Cannes 2017 was all about one man… Phillipp Plein.

In one gargantuan, in-your-face show of wealth, celebrity connections (Eva Longoria, Carine Roitfeld and Paris Hilton to name but a few) and fan-friendly fashion, Phillipp Plein’s first ever resort show well and truly cemented his place in the upper echelon of the fashion elite, whether the old-guard of fashion like it or not.

Not that Plein seems at all hungry for the respect of his designer peers, and why would he be? In just nine years, the 39-year-old has established one of the most profitable international fashion labels around, thanks to an inspired combination of shrewd business moves, an agility and forward-thinking attitude lacking in many legacy design houses and perhaps most importantly, knowing his audience, and meeting their needs. ‘I listen to what my customers want, not what the fashion world says’, he explains on the eve of his Cannes show. There’s no fashion snobbery on Plein’s watch, just an unapologetic drive for success, obvious when your first million is celebrated with your name tattooed on your forearm.

That’s not to say his designs are democratically priced. Plein knows the worth of his designs, and in a culture of hype, where cult street brands like Supreme and Palace have amassed legions of fans through limited runs and celebrity endorsers, Phillip has created a similar appetite through his signature jackets (upwards of £2,000) and strategic marketing.

Which brings us back to his palatial Cannes home ‘La Jungle Du Roi‘, AKA Plein’s Palace, and the setting for his first ever Resort show and capsule collection produced in collaboration with New York graffiti artist Alec Monopoly (more of the enigmatic artist later).

Here’s what you missed from the hottest event you didn’t even know about…

Welcome to Pleinland…

Other than a misplaced house party invite on Facebook, who else would confidently invite 250 friends, special guests and press into their home and ply them with fountains of branded champagne, jelly sweets (a Plein signature, and another example of him giving the people what they want) and offer up an unprecedented look inside the inner workings of a business that’s not only thriving, but growing exponentially?

Spoiler alert: chatting to the designer the day after the show, we learnt that beneath the cool, steely exterior, Plein, like any normal person, was understandably worried about hosting the event in his private multi-million pound home. As he walked around his living room, past the huge vases and gilded furniture that lined the room, he laughed that he had to kick everyone out at 10pm, before the party took over the house. No wonder then that the show ended with him taking an impromptu, but restorative, dive into the pool, ‘I was sweating so bad, it was not a bad idea…’

The location was epic

His house and grounds were everything they should be, palatial white furniture, lush palms and banana trees, fountains lining the walkway down to the pool, and a garage featuring a selection of stupidly expensive, yet thoroughly covetable cars. On the night, a catwalk made from pink carpet lined with chairs was created within his garden and snaked up from the pool to the fountains. Somehow, in true Plein fashion, it worked perfectly.

Let’s talk about the collection

With a soundtrack of the Guns N’ Roses classic Welcome to the Jungle blasting out from some hidden jungle speaker, Plein sent his models down the runway in a loud and proud street couture mash-up, featuring signature embellished jackets, with added floral details, and patched denim jeans that brought an energetic injection of rock to the Côte d’Azur.

The who’s who of the fashion influencer elite were there

It was to be expected that Plein’s first Resort show would feature a cherry-picked lineup of A-list guests and influencers, we’re talking about the man whose past shows have included Snoop Dogg, Grace Jones and Madonna. So yeah, Eva Longoria on the FROW and long time Plein fan, Paris Hilton (‘everything he makes is totally me, he’s one of my favourite designers in the world’) walking the catwalk hand in hand with her BF, actor Chris Zylka, set the tone for the whole show.

On a side note, Jeremy Meeks AKA ‘Hot Felon’ will be forever known as potentially the politest model of all time. He gave so much time to the guests post-show, because everybody wanted a photo with him. Natch.

THAT Winnie spray paint moment

In surely a catwalk first, model-of-the-moment Winnie Harlow walked the runway followed by a spray-can wielding Alec Monopoly, who proceeded to tag her clothes as she marched past the front row in true performance-art-meets-Plein style.

You couldn’t get more bespoke…

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