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Inside Philipp Plein’s Larger-than-Life Global Empire of Fashion, Fragrance, and “Fun”

Hot off the heels of his first perfume launch, Philipp Plein invites us into his high-energy world of limitless parties and possibilities.

Phillip Plein

Phillip Plein at his boutique opening in Madrid. Photo: Getty

“Anything is possible, once you have a specific vision. Just follow your gut,” says designer Philipp Plein. Not one to play by anyone’s rules, Plein has spent the last 12 years building a multi-million-dollar empire on the foundation of unlimited possibilities. It only seemed fitting, then, for the German designer to name his first scent for men No Limit$, in an olfactory representation of his commitment to living a life without boundaries. “This perfume perfectly embodies the Philipp Plein man,” he shares. “It smells like desire, money, energy, and muscles.”

Phillip Plein

No Limit$ by Phillip Plein

Plein has wanted to move into fragrances for quite some time, but it wasn’t until he met master perfumer Alberto Morillas that his dream came true. “I am a perfectionist and I never really found the right partner, the right moment,” he considers. Morillas masterminded not one but four bespoke fragrances with Plein, which they then combined into one perfume for a truly unique scent. The juice is packaged in an obsidian-colored glass bottle shaped like a credit card and stamped with the brand’s signature skull. Inside, the spicy notes of black pepper and ginger blend with cedarwood and oud to envelop the wearer in a heady scent symbolizing the modern-day pleasures Plein is known to champion. “It’s all about the DNA of a brand or an artist; it can be translated into anything,” says Plein.

The self-funded entrepreneur had an unconventional start. In 2008, he shifted from designing furniture to fashion after the crystal-studded military jackets he created to decorate clothing rails garnered the most interest. Throughout, Plein has remained unapologetically himself. “I see all the big brands trying to keep up with the market, trying to be ‘younger,’ ‘cooler,’ or more ‘edgy’ and not staying true to their brand or identity. In my case, I am young and have a loyal customer base who are growing with me. I don’t need any ‘surgery;’ I don’t need to pretend. I do what I personally like and there is a strong connection with my customers.”

Phillip Plein

The Philipp Plein FW20 No Limits runway show. Photo: Getty

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Today, the Munich-born creative has more than 250 stores worldwide and one of the hottest shows at Milan fashion week. The Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana recognized him in 2013 following a few years of off-calendar presentations. “I have a democratic approach to fashion; I am inclusive,” shares Plein. “My shows are meant to be parties, meant to be fun, and I am happy to open the doors to thousands of people normally not invited to shows.” Plein’s larger-than-life runways feature bold designs that are “just the right amount of wrong,” with sets and performers for a big-budget display of showmanship that seems to increase in extravagance each season. “I create a collection and then I like to imagine its world,” says Plein, affirming that he is hands-on all aspects of the production of a show.

Philipp Plein, jada pinkett smith

Jada Pinkett Smith at the Philipp Plein FW20 No Limits runway show. Photo: Getty

While past years have involved roller coasters, monster trucks, and jet skis, FW20 took flight with gold-painted helicopters and planes decorating the stage amid a Midas-inspired spectacle packed with stars like Missy Elliott, Tyga, and a catwalk finale featuring Jada Pinkett Smith. “Fashion must be fun. In my opinion, sometimes we take it too seriously. There is nothing anymore in fashion that can be invented; this is the reason I like to create worlds around each collection.” This atypical attitude may cause controversy from time to time, such as the exclusive capsule of number 24 Lakers shirts Plein created in tribute to Kobe Bryant. Plein’s advice? “Don’t be like everybody else; stick to your vision and work harder than you can ever imagine. Turn obstacles into opportunities and be yourself.”

Philipp Plein

The Philipp Plein FW20 No Limits runway show. Photo: Getty

With different projects in the pipeline, including a new line of watches, it’s clear the only rule Plein does follow is his motto to never stop dreaming and achieving. “This is not a brand owned by a group who change personality each time they hire a different designer,” he states. “This is me, Philipp Plein.”
Originally published in the Spring/Summer 2020 issue of Vogue Man Arabia 

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