Well, it's here.
Perhaps the most anticipated show of the year, Celine by Hedi Slimane made its Spring / Summer 2019 debut on Friday, September 28th at Paris Fashion Week. The buzz at Les Invalides was unlike any other. Not only did this collection mark a new era without Phoebe Philo, the brand's creative director of ten years, but it also marked the return of fashion's king of rock n' roll, Hedi Slimane.
It would have been naive to think that little would change to the French fashion house once Slimane took the creative reigns. His and Philo's aesthetics are almost polar opposites, with the exception that "androgynous minimalism" is their meeting point. Slimane made it clear that he wasn't going to continue with Philo's modern feminine style that featured loose silhouettes and soft colour palettes. "You don't enter a fashion house to imitate the work of your predecessor," he told Le Figaro in an interview. "Consistency, rigour, accuracy - this is what is meaningful to me. I want the integrity of this route. It will perpetuate at Celine," he also explained in an exclusive interview with The Business of Fashion.
And that it did.
The show started and finished with drummers from France's Republican Guard as the first model appeared. Wearing a short, black and white polka-dotted silk cocktail dress dominated by a prominent tulip-like bow, she strutted down the runway. Complimented with buckled combat boots and a shimmery, net-detailed pillowbox hat, we suddenly all knew what we were in for. A signature we're all too familiar with, one driven by punk rock, angst and youth culture - classic Hedi.
Following the ghostly model bearing little-to-no makeup was a male model in a slim black suit with a white and black striped shirt underneath, finished with a skinny black tie. Another first on the Celine runway, as a menswear collection for the brand didn't exist until now. The look was accompanied by thin sunglasses and patent leather Oxford shoes, clashing with the model's youthful and contemporary appearance. He looked like a teenager in an all-boys underground rock band that had grown up and now works a 9-5 in an office.
The collection was an array of black. Lots of shimmer, ruffles and of course, tons of leather. Colour was non-existent, with the exception of a few garments including a red mini-dress, a glittery, emerald green cocktail dress and flashes of multicoloured embroidered patterns on several jackets. Metallics were seen on various pieces including a silver bomber jacket, a gold peplum skirt and a silver mini-dress, both accompanied by leather outerwear - go figure. Every male model wore a pair of sunglasses. Grumpy, baby-faced female models were seen in either short skirts and dresses or androgynous black suits. Narrow silhouettes (sometimes with boxy, abstract details), signature tuxedo jackets, and trench coats were also frequently seen, exuding a modern Matrix-like style.
Yes, the collection was beautiful. The show in general was beautiful. However, we all had the same thought. Starting at Dior Homme, brought to life at Saint Laurent and now at Celine, this style does not belong to any brand - it is simply just Hedi Slimane. Which brings forth the question; why doesn't Slimane just start his own line? Usually, when a designer is appointed the position of creative director, they tend to incorporate some elements of their predecessor's vision, even if it's just a slight nod to their work. This is not the case for Slimane. He wiped the slate so clean that there wasn't a single trace of Celine's heritage to be seen. "Phoebe Philo, who?" almost echoed throughout the building.
Though the criticism started before the collection even debuted when Slimane dropped the accent on the "e" in Celine, it is now definite that fashion lovers and insiders are not happy with the result of the new Celine / old Saint Laurent. To say the least, people are grieving. Phoebe Philo's Céline was about women. It was an unconventionally feminine brand that glorified the modern, confident woman who's power had nothing to do with her sexuality. Slimane's dark, sexy, punk-princess Celine is nothing of the sort.
With the #MeToo movement, that thankfully, has created an uproar of empowered women that fashion has chosen to support and celebrate, it seems as though Hedi would prefer to stay silent. Ironic and frankly concerning, considering his collection debuted on the same day as Brett Kavanaugh's hearing in Washington.
The world is changing - and fashion changes with it. Slimane has appeared to stay in the same place he was two years ago when he disappeared from the industry upon his departure at Saint Laurent. We, as a society, are desperate to move forward and are constantly striving for further progression - and fashion follows suit. It would bode well for Slimane to do the same. In the nicest way possible, it's time to get with it - and fast.
By: Isabel de Carteret
Shop Celine here
Images via Vogue Runway