Brian Phillips Has Got Fashion Brands’ Back
The rise of Brian Phillips, the President of Black Frame, to the top echelons of the fashion industry, is both well-known and impressive. Instead of working his way up through the ranks of PR companies he founded Black Frame after having made fashion inroads at the cult magazine Visionaire straight out of college, worked at the now defunct production company Fatal Art Syndicate, and built up a close knit group of friends who just happened to work in the fashion industry. Friends that including Carol Lim and Humberto Leon, the duo behind Opening Ceremony (which Brian helped promote from the start) and who also are also now designing Kenzo – a deal that Brian was instrumental in brokering for the duo.
But, perhaps the most mythic fashion war story from Brian’s early career years happened when, while he was in-between jobs, Hedi Slimane came knocking. Brain had worked with the iconic designer on a project a year earlier, the results of which apparently stuck in Slimane’s brain. When Slimane reached out to Brian again, he just happened to be the creative director of Dior Homme. After a meeting with Sidney Toledano, the then CEO of Christian Dior at that time, Brian had a deal with the brand.
Thus, at the tender age of 24 Brian launched Black Frame. His first two clients…. Dior Homme and Visionaire.
Since then he has nurtured the creative careers of designers and brands like Rodate, Delfina Delettrez, Helmut Lang, Eckhaus Latta, Woolrich, Dion Lee and Nike. Launched a sister company called Framework that focuses on “developing concepts for innovative brand experiences” and more recently became the creative director of the cult biannual publication Garage Magazine.
I have known Brian for many years and what strikes you about him, besides the breadth and width of his cultural knowledge, is his no BS way of doing business. In an industry where schmoozing and sucking up has become almost an art form Brian doesn’t suffer fools or is looking for acolytes. He is all business, pretty much all the time and you better bring you’re A-game and offer up an interesting challenge if you want to get his attention.
And Brian is a pretty interesting guy in his own right. I promise that if you can bear with the background hum of the air conditioning fan in this interview, that finally shuts down at about the 4-minute mark of our conversation, you will be rewarded with an insightful and informative conversation in which Brian really lays out his business philosophy and creative strategy. Honestly, I just asked my questions, sat back and let Brian run with it.
Jessica Michault is the Senior Vice President of industry relations at GPS Radar by Launchmetrics. She is also the editor-at-large for ODDA magazine and contributes to publications like the New York Times, the Business of Fashion, Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and Mixte magazine.
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