Celine (sans aigu!)
text EVANGELINA ROSE
video & photography VOGUE RUNWAY
scene LES INVALIDES, PARIS, FRANCE
As the lights dim, it is the visceral sound of pounding drums that beckons us first. Two Garde Républicaine boys, in ceremonial uniforms, set the prelude to Celine’s awakening. And once again, in a mere heartbeat, we find ourselves in the grandiose presence of Hedi Slimane’s arcana.
It was a surreal incongruity, when LVMH announced that Slimane would take over Celine. Which naturally, caused even further bewilderment, when he dropped the aigu accent.
Slimane moved to Los Angeles in 2008 and he has continued to infuse the city’s rock ‘n’ roll idée fixe with his own cardinal rules of French allure. Lest we forget, when he created one of the most identifiable and influential vocabularies in menswear for Dior Homme. Or when his collections for Saint Laurent – soundtracked by kindred alt-rock bands – implied Bowie’s Berlin and Cobain’s Seattle. There’s no denying that Slimane is a designer known to turn the system on its head, despite the criticism (we all know that critics created pomp and circumstance to make a living, anyway).
“Unlike Phoebe Philo, this new author of this novel is also the character.”
In lieu of endless, heated dissection of his work at Dior Homme and Saint Laurent, Hedi understands what the true currency is. And that is, to communicate. Unlike Phoebe Philo, this new author of this novel is also the character. When Slimane spun his ardor into Celine today, we witnessed a sensibility towards everything he loves – music, art, dance, youth.
The collection, titled Paris La Nuit, took place at Les Invalides and the kaleidoscopic set was based on the idea of a windup ballerina in a child’s music box. This was a nod to Celine’s history – in 1945, Céline Vipiana first established her brand as a childrens shoe boutique at 52 rue de Malte Pari. The glossy black panels of the music box shifted and glistened to the sound of Parisian psych band, La Femme and Slimane’s asparagus-lean clan descended onto the runway with gregarious mien.
Phoebe Philo’s Celine rarely beared resemblencance to its 20th-century incarnation. Back in the late 1970s and 1980s, the Celine woman had a taste for freedom: it was power to the shoulder and a brazen strut of which she exercised across the arrondissements of Paris. Which is why the clothes tonight were big-shouldered, sparkly and mini. From A-line shifts and 80s silhouettes to boleros and puffball skirts, Slimane referenced midnight Paris. En general, the collection was draped in noir but also featured random, mash-ups of colour, in collaboration with Swiss-American artist Christian Marclay. His vibrant paintings were translated across bags and hand-embroidered couture dresses and jackets.
As for menswear, he emphasised in his first press release, “that the entire wardrobe worn by the male models is unisex, and therefore will also be available for women.” This was Hedi’s revolutionary act of blurring the lines between genders. When David Bowie passed away, Slimane penned a short article for the Victoria & Albert Museum’s V&A Magazine. In the touching piece – believed to be composed the night after fittings for Saint Laurent at the Palladium show – Hedi writes, “I look at David. I am not quite sure if it is a boy or a girl. I don’t care. I am the same anyway.” This has always been the crux of Slimane’s collections – boys and girls in the same silhouette, just like the androgynous musician.
“Beyond Slimane’s extraordinary craftsmanship and fearless showmanship, here is a man who can influence the way the youth unconsciously pick and choose opinions, quirky tastes and non-negotiable convictions.”
But beyond his extraordinary craftsmanship and fearless showmanship, here is a man who can influence the way the youth unconsciously pick and choose opinions, quirky tastes and non-negotiable convictions. And now that athleisure and Kardashian lip-fillers are taking over, Slimane is needed more than ever.
This collection will be as divisive as the rest. But controversy, as proven in the past, can imbue so much magnetic dynamism that could render a fashion house with a colossal boom. Ask Kering. They should know.
The two reverberant percussionists remerged, signalling that the show has come to an end. The sound was startling. But in its humble profundity, it is also the sound of Hedi marching to the beat of his own drums. That’s his mantra, and it's as true now as it's ever been. █