Hedi Slimane for Céline: Heroine Sellers Weigh In
Earlier this week, LVMH announced that Hedi Slimane will take over Céline on February 1st, adding menswear and couture to the quintessentially-female brand. Previously run by Phoebe Philo, Céline was synonymous with femininity and entirely free from the presence of the male-gaze; simply put, it was clothing for women, designed by a woman. For many, Céline was an aspirational brand—one that was monetarily unattainable for most young women, but aesthetically represented where we hoped to be in the future.
With this idea in mind—the brand as a representation of a purely female design vision—the choice of Hedi Slimane as creative director for Céline seems out of place. He is known for his success, no doubt, but primarily within the menswear world. His designs are marked by elements of the underground punk-rock scene in L.A.—strikingly slim skinny-jeans, studs, leather, low-cut necklines, short hems—while Céline is cherished for its subtle sensuality. A woman in Céline exudes a sexual prowess without offering any "regular" visual cues, where a typical Hedi-silhouette emphasizes and exposes a woman's figure. There is nothing deficient or unappealing about a Slimane-silhouette, for many it's ideal, but the core of the issue here is that the Philo woman is simply not the Slimane woman. How he will interpret this cherished aesthetic is yet to be determined, but it seems that many fear he will turn the brand into something of his own.
Curious to hear what others think about this controversial announcement, I turned to the individuals who know best—Céline collectors here on Heroine. They share their thoughts on the subject below.
Personally, I have a business first mindset which is sometimes hard to look past. After seeing the initial announcement that Hedi would be joining Céline, I can already say that sales are going to go through the roof as we witnessed with YSL. After I looked past the financial success that Céline is about to experience I realized a few major problems with this situation. My first realization was that Céline and Hedi do not mix well. Especially after the exit of Phoebe, Hedi is not what is needed in the company. Phoebe took the brand to a new level and by that, I mean that she had men (including me) trying to figure out how to get Céline in a larger size or trying to fit into it at all costs. In my eyes, Céline is not meant to be a Saint Laurent or any mass-production for that matter. Céline is meant to be exclusive and a brand you have to be passionate about in order to buy and wear. Céline is not sold online for that same exact reason. Overall I believe that this is not the right move from Céline. If Hedi takes the same approach as he did with YSL, I believe that after only a year or two people will find themselves bored with his work and ultimately missing the old Céline that Phoebe Philo will always be remembered for.
I'm neither surprised nor excited. Why? Because Hedi is very addicted to his own design theory and what he loves—he will do the same for Céline. Céline's menswear will be the same as his designs for Dior Homme & Saint Laurent. To be honest, Hedi doesn't have talent in womenswear design because he likes men more than women. I can foresee that Céline couture will be very scary. Hedi will implement streetwear designs into his couture. It's a breakthrough but I'm not into this kind of so-called revolution. The most important thing is, I don't care about the designs because I know his relationship with Céline won't last more than 3-5 years. This is what the fashion system nowadays—easy come, easy go. This is our fashion world.
To be honest I am not sure about the announcement. I feel that Phoebe Philo for Céline had such a signature look. It defined a style and sense of community for women—it was exceptionally tailored, yet architectural, all while being feminine and whimsical. I feel as though the choice of Slimane for Céline is a move towards full commercialism with the addition of men's and fragrance. Plain and simple, the woman that Slimane designs clothes for is not the woman that has worn Céline during the era of Phoebe Philo.
Being an avid Céline fan I was extremely shocked with the surprise appointment of Hedi. He represents the antithesis of what Céline stands for—modern, masculine yet feminine and effortless French chic. Well, I guess LVMH wanted a drastic change so they picked someone like Hedi who is quite popular in Asia. Perhaps with him, they will be able to reach out to more people particularly in Asia. I know Hedi is massive in China, South Korea, and Japan. But I'm positive that fans of Céline are all outraged with Hedi's appointment because his aesthetic definitely doesn't fit Céline's. Hopefully, he won't make any drastic changes like his typical silhouette and thrift shop redux looks walk on the runway.
I believe that it is the end of an era. For me, what Phoebe was doing for the brand was not commercial, they were more making money on accessories like handbags. I am sad because according to my experience, what Hedi Slimane did for Saint Laurent was commercial, repeat stuff. I decided to keep my Phoebe Céline since it is more valuable to me.
How do you feel about Hedi Slimane as creative director of Céline? Share your thoughts in the comments and browse a selection of Céline listings below.