Super Model Iman Boycotted Fashion Company Celine After Lead Designer Phoebe Philo Complained She Was “Forced” To Work w/ Black Models

Iman, Phoebe Philo

Super Model Iman Boycotted Fashion Company Celine After Lead Designer Phoebe Philo Complained She Was “Forced” To Work w/ Black Models

Runway icon Iman is opening about about a racist experience she had with a major fashion brand.

During a recent interview, the 68-year-old dished about how the situation prompted her to cut ties totally with the company.


Iman spoke about the encounter while speaking to famed radio personality Sway on his morning radio show. According the the fashion legend, she was gravely offended after famed designer Phoebe Philo, who worked for the fashion company Celine at the time, complained to her that she didn’t want to be “forced” to work with Black models. Iman explained during the interview:

“One of the designers was a woman called Philo, worked at Celine. Every woman Black white every age that I know of coveted Celine,” 

She continued:

“And so Philo said, ‘Am i going to be forced to use Black models’ – she’s never used Black models…I said ‘no, there’s got to be the right Black model for you, there can’t be no Black model that’s not right for you”…just by [her] saying that, I said – and I did this and I’ve done it but never said it publicly…for the action of [her] saying that she has to have the choice not to use Black models, that’s why I have never bought a Celine bag. She has the right to her runway, and I have a right to my pocketbook.”

Phoebe Philo

Iman’s comments come just as Philo is set to make a return to fashion following a near five year hiatus. According to reports, the designer established a name for herself after taking the helm of Creative Director at Celine back in 2008. Philo reportedly stepped down in 2017 with no explanation other than retirement. The designer reportedly made a soft re-emergence in 2021, hinting at plans to launch her own namesake fashion line that seems to finally be coming to fruition.

As Iman’s interview with Sway began circulating the internet, social media users were certain to chime in with their unsurprised thoughts. One user claimed that this isn’t the first time Philo has been criticized for alleged racist behavior, writing:

“Iman, Naomi, and Bethann Hardison have called Phoebe Philo out for her racism since 2013. This isn’t new.

While another added:

“The receipts always land right on time black fashion twitter was waiting for Phoebe Philo to return…”

Others expressed their disappointment that Philo, who is considered an icon in the fashion industry, has not been held accountable for her alleged disgraceful actions.

Despite her negative opinions about Black models, Philo has gone on to achieve significant success and notoriety within the fashion industry. Reportedly, luxury fashion company LVMH, who owns famous brands such as Louis Vuitton, Dior and Sephora, are partnering with the designer to launch her coming line. Back in February it was reported that Philo was expected to debut a first look of the brand digitally sometime this month. However, it does not appear the line has yet been released.

It doesn’t seem that Philo nor Celine has responded publicly to Iman’s comments about her at this time.


Are you shocked to hear Iman’s story about Phoebe Philo? Let us know in the comments section below!

Authored by: Kay Johnson