I don’t believe there has been a more anticipated affair over the past months. Namely, Hedi Slimane’s debut at Celine. It was, after all, an unforeseen scenario: ‘fashion’s grunge maven takes the helm at the holy grail of minimalist fashion’ — a design house worshipped by women and men alike for its classic shapes and clean tailoring. Following weeks of speculation— as the Celine Instagram was stripped, and its e-commerce suspended (not to mention the removal of the Céline accent) — the time finally arrived to unveil the new SS19 collection. An exquisite noir-sur-noir spectacle, entitled ‘Paris, La Nuit’.
Front row: Stephen Gan, Lady Gaga, Karl Lagerfeldt & Helene Arnault
Slimane made clear that his vision for Celine would transcend the codes Phoebe Philo had established there: the house was now his. Accordingly, a colossal show-space was created for the occasion, featuring a minimal black box in the centre of Paris. Complete with two drummer boys from the Garde Republicaine, the scene incorporated glossy black panels, which slid back to reveal a kaleidoscopic, mirrored interior (with a woman seemingly suspended within).
The collection itself embodied a natural succession to his prior oeuvres. Slimane proceeded with a variety of slim-fitting silhouettes, and tailored separates, punctuated by the spirit of Rock ’n Roll with signature motorcycle jackets. The runway opened with a party dress; mini-length, polka-dot, strapless, with a bow tie at the bust that extended into wing-like oversize sleeves. This is the new Celine, I thought as the first look came down the runway. And, of course, it was Noir. An abundance of black, with the only reprieve found in a single red sequin dress and a few metallics.
But does this echo the authenticity Celine once held? Or are we to accept its ever-evolving fate, embracing Slimane’s own signature, regardless of the brand’s established aesthetic? As many pondered what the brand’s fate would hold — it seems the collection bears much more than a passing resemblance to Slimane’s rebranded Saint Laurent. This is evidently a win for his own followers who by now must be satisfied with their new share of monochromatic ensembles. And what of the rest? The women who revered former designer Pheobe Phillo’s subtle yet sophisticated aesthetic sought organic growth and authenticity — not a single static vision rehashed.
Alongside womenswear, which leaned heavily toward iconic French styling and savoir-faire, Slimane presented menswear that also kept in line with his past collections. Skinny suiting was fundamental. Indeed, it was an evening of monochromic dazes. Adorned with sequined details and latex fabrics, what remains certain is that Slimane’s debut collection at Celine, unequivocally asserts the thrill of the after-hours.