Fashion is renowned for having a short, cyclical lifespan, with this ephemerality holding a large part of its appeal for many. These rapid rotations are capable of driving it ever forward, however Hedi Slimane’s appointment to Celine has simply allowed the designer to retrace the path he has already created through his work at both Dior Homme and Saint Laurent.
Whilst comparisons between Slimane and Phoebe Philo (Slimane’s predecessor) have undoubtedly been made, this seems unhelpful given their disparate styles and artistic objectives. Slimane is not aiming to recreate or even continue Philo’s work at Celine, and to his credit nor is he trying to. However, Slimane had large shoes to fill. Philo steadily transformed Celine into a house that had the rare combination of consistently being both commercially successful as well as critically acclaimed over her 10-year run.
Slimane’s approach has been brave- he has announced plans to redesign all 140 of the brand’s stores as well as expanding Celine into menswear, couture and fragrance. This will undoubtedly please shareholders who are hoping for a continuation in Philo’s trajectory of success. However, with this comes the risk that Slimane will overdilute Celine’s appeal. Only time will tell if this will be the case, but Slimane’s track record of unprecedented growth acceleration at both Dior Homme and Saint Laurent through similar measures holds him in good stead.
The A/W 2018 collection itself has been the least successful aspect of Slimane’s overhaul so far, as the designs he presented at PFW were at best unoriginal and at worst out of touch with the consumer of today. With the collection entitled “Paris la Nuit”, Slimane’s collection was unabashedly aimed at his unwavering army of Slimanics: the young, thin, rich and irreverent youth of whichever city the designer currently calls home. Monochromatic black was the unwavering overtone of the show, with smatterings of metallics, white and shimmer interspersed. The models were Slimane’s standard roost of emancipated and androgynous, walking to the beat of French band La Femme, with whom Slimane has previously worked.
This was not the only aspect of the past that Slimane was revisiting, with Diet Prada (Instagram) publishing side by side comparisons of the unquestionable similarity between this collection and previous work at Saint Laurent, as can be seen in the images attached to this article. Whilst certain aspects dazzled, most notably the graphic sequined jacket in look 65 (see image), it was not enough to save what was overall was an uninspired collection. Slimane will have to work on more than just press stunts if he wants his tenure at Celine to parallel that of Philo.
For those interested to see Diet Prada’s full side-by-side critique of Slimane: Diet Prada
By Iona Tompkins.