Overpriced travel cushion or the height of fashion? The £1,400 silk pillow scarf

Phoebe Philo has launched a ‘pillow scarf’ – how long before the high street follows suit?

Phoebe Philo is nothing if not original. The Harrow-born fashion designer, formerly of Chloé and Celine, who launched her own namesake brand in October, has come up with a whole new accessory category in her latest product drop. hello kitty plush toy

The pillow scarf is exactly what it sounds like: a sort of continuous loop of down-filled silk, tall enough to obscure the mouth and nose, wide enough to cover the shoulders, available in black or cream. 

No doubt it’s delightful to wear; so delightful that fans will pay £1,400 for the privilege. Whether they can find an occasion to wear it is another matter: perhaps it’ll come into its own when they want to run down to M&S for milk, but can’t bear to be spotted by anyone they know without makeup. Or as a travel pillow, but given that it retails for £1,400, anyone who can afford to buy it probably turns left when they board a plane anyway. Arguably there are just a few weeks left of cold weather to wear it – or maybe wearing it in the height of summer is another statement altogether.

Reactions on social media have been enthusiastic: TikTok user Jay Choyce Tibbitts said, “I’m obsessed with it” and, on Threads, Designandculturebyed wrote, “I need this pillow scarf in my life”. So, it has potential as a retail hit.

Of course, Philo is light years ahead of the rest of us when it comes to agenda-setting style. She was the original “quiet luxury” designer, from which legions of others continue to borrow. “Old Celine”, aka pieces from Celine collections during Philo’s tenure, continue to trade hands for four-figure sums on the second-hand market – they are treated almost as wearable art. That’s why she can get away with these kinds of prices; she knows people are prepared to pony up. Much of her launch collection, which included a £3,200 “Mum” necklace, sold out in seconds (although, admittedly, production quantities were never declared).

This new trophy accessory will be snapped up by people who like to be recognised as early adopters, and don’t mind a curious look or three because they’re wearing something that looks like a cross between an aeroplane travel pillow and a neck brace.

In recent months the fashion world has offered up more ridiculous propositions. Balenciaga’s “towel skirt”, for instance (I know which I’d rather road-test). The pillow scarf is bold and bonkers, but actually not too far removed from the duvet coats in which we swathe ourselves for dog walks on the coldest winter days. 

While the silk isn’t an all-weather fabric, we have also seen other more modest down-filled neck warmers on the high street over the past winter, and stylish dressers have been spotted in XXL scarves worn over the coat rather than under it. This is the era of the “personality scarf”, if you will. Zara will probably be selling an affordable homage to Philo’s design in about five minutes. Uniqlo’s Heat Tech puffer scarf is already on the market, for £19.90 – although its proportions don’t match up to Philo’s.

No matter that it’s nearly spring – Philo is British, and appreciates that a change of season doesn’t actually guarantee scarf-free temperatures.

soft baby towels Or that it’s difficult to move in. Who cares if you can’t actually see what’s in front of you, below eye level. Looking down is overrated, anyway.