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Kate Phelan

Former Creative Director, Topshop

With an irreverent, cheeky take on fashion, she left British Vogue for a position at Topshop before returning to consult.


Kate Phelan is a contributing editor to British Vogue and one of Britain’s most esteemed stylists. At the top of her game, Phelan has worked with almost everyone and partly responsible for crafting the modern British aesthetic, recognised globally. In 2011, she became creative director of Topshop, until stepping down in August 2017.

Having been captivated as a child by British Vogue, Phelan moved to London in 1984 to study fashion communications at Central Saint Martins. A three-month work placement at Vogue became a fulltime job as a fashion assistant, a role she would stay in for three years, when she left to become senior fashion editor at Marie Claire.

In 1993, Alexandra Shulman , the then newly appointed editor of British Vogue, asked Phelan to return to the title. Phelan accepted and went on to be co-creative director with Lucinda Chambers for 18 years, leaving to join Topshop in 2012. “I had achieved so many of my dreams but I wanted to know if I could survive without Vogue as it had carried me all my working life. I needed to take the risk."

Phelan successfully transferred her fresh, insouciant take on British dressing to Topshop, styling and directing the collections and brand imagery. Phelan’s affiliation with the retailer has awarded it a legitimacy in the industry, previously unheard of for a mass retailer.

However, a part of Phelan’s heart still belonged to Vogue and it was announced in 2013 that concurrent to her duties at Topshop, she would return to Vogue, in a “part-time, yet significant role.”

In August 2017, it was announced Phelan would be stepping down from her role at Topshop. She is represented by CLM Agency. 


Topshop Topman

Topshop Topman

Creative Director

2011 - Present

London, United Kingdom

Vogue Magazine

Vogue Magazine

Fashion Director, British Vogue

1993 - Present

London, United Kingdom

Marie Claire Magazine

Marie Claire Magazine

1990 - 1993

London, United Kingdom


Central Saint Martins

Central Saint Martins

Vital Statistics


United Kingdom

United Kingdom
Member since

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What is The BoF 500?

The people shaping the global fashion industry, curated by the editors of The Business of Fashion, based on nominations and on-the-ground intelligence from around the world.