Closing Paris Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2019: The Celine Man Is Born
Since getting the first glimpse of what the new Celine would look like when the brand debuted its first collection under Slimane at last year’s spring/summer 2019 womenswear shows, opinions on the direction the French fashion designer was taking Celine have been nothing short of divisive.
In the face of criticism, Slimane did what he does best: he buckled down and designed. The result was unapologetically Hedi, and yes, perhaps somewhat anticipated – but no less beautiful.
The collection, shown against a breath-taking backdrop of Parisian landmarks – the Luxor Obelisk on the Place de la Concorde at the centre – encompassed all the right elements. It had those Slimane touches that made it fresh, and right on trend this season.
Out walked Slimane’s first creation: a black, double-breasted suit, the trousers pleated and slightly cropped. Donned underneath was a white shirt and skinny black tie. And the most striking of all? The suit’s loose fit, the same distinct look that would manifest in the collection's other items, like high-waisted, ’80s-daddy-chic trousers.
But Slimane, who over the 2000s had honed his skinny silhouette – undoubtedly a style he has for years been synonymous with – didn't abandon the slim-cut fits that permeated through fashion the minute he first put them on the runway. He presented that aesthetic throughout the collection and in different variations, including tight leather jeans and biker jackets.
At the heart of the collection, says Slimane, is traditional tailoring. And in true Hedi fashion, it was heavily inspired by the personal. The designer, who has been spending more time in London after his California-soaked Saint Laurent days, cited British music as the starting point for what would become his first Celine menswear show: “A London Diary: Polaroids Of The British Youth”.
Models, many sporting bowl haircuts, stomped to the fast-paced sound of indie band Crack Cloud and post-punk figure James Chance playing on the saxophone. The musical collaboration an effort to connect the two generations, it was also seen on the runway in grandpa's tweeds and his favourite brogues and monk straps. The inclusion of No Wave sunglasses as accessories aided in conjuring up this new Celine man.
The plethora of outerwear offerings presented were a design feat in themselves, notably the covetable animal prints: a yellow-and-black tiger coat, as well as one in sequenced leopard and another shiny, silvery creation. The square shouldered shape played well with Slimane's proportions.
And the designer, who knows better than anyone how to parade his clothes, certainly ticked that box, and the edgy mood is sure to resonate with his young, cultlike followers (the “Slimanics”) the same way it did at Saint Laurent. Indeed, not to be forgotten, it was LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the French luxury conglomerate and parent company of the Yves Saint Laurent-founded house that (re)hired Slimane for Celine. (Chief Executive Officer of LVMH, Bernard Arnault, has explicitly said he hopes the designer will triple profits at the brand.)
The contentious chatter around Slimane’s clothing is likely set to continue. But chances are that for every rebuff of the new Celine, especially this menswear season, there’s another designer of equal stature stripping back to the same basics. And on top of every critique, whether positive or negative, there’s double (maybe triple, if you're as optimistic as Arnault) the amount of shoppers running to spend their money on Slimane’s exquisitely cut clothes, further filling the pockets of LVMH.
And, isn’t that how successful businesses work? We think so.