PFW SS19: Celine

ALL eyes have been on Hedi Slimane for awhile now. When the designer was named Creative Director of Celine back in January, two questions formed. Firstly: who would Slimane’s SS19 styles be catered towards? Secondly: would Phoebe Philio’s acclaimed mastery of masculine-meets-feminine attire be continued? Last night, in the setting of Paris’s Invalides, both proposals were answered. In a widespread revelation of 96 runway looks, Hedi Slimane did what he does best – Hedi Slimane. AKA: glitzy, rock n’roll styles catered towards a teenage revolution of strictly slender silhouettes. With it, the Celine woman took the re-branded turn of the century.

An alteration was anticipated by many. When Celine’s new logo was revealed earlier this month, Slimane’s smallest removal (an accent topping the ‘E’) triggered speculation and concern among the fashion crowd. For what reason? Though its adjustment might have appeared minor, it signalled new influence upon the brand’s identity.

Add that to new campaigns plastered pretty much everywhere in sight, as well as a teasing handbag spotted on the arm of Lady Gaga, and a new vision was, well, imminent. During Philo’s previous tenure, Celine became a business powerhouse – sartorially speaking – though its minimal, yet contemporary uniform for successful women. But from SS19, it looks like Celine’s lifestyle is soon to be the opposite – she’s now out partying until early hours with a significantly younger crowd.

How was that manifested? Through Slimane’s signature style. Eccentricity was established from the offset: a bow-emblazoned strapless dress – micro short – was his first look. What followed was an outpour of studded leather jackets, sparkling mini disco frocks, monochrome suits tailored to the brutally slender, and a pulsing sense of alternative, cool clothing. There’s no denying that Slimane is good at design, but it’s an eponymous approach to design.

We’ve seen strikingly similar clothes by him before – namely at Saint Laurent, which he directed for four years up until 2016. So with his first Celine collection, a debate arises. Should we celebrate this completely new chapter for the house, or do we long for an infusion of Slimane’s work with the mature heritage developed by Philo? It’s a tricky one to answer, but love or hate, the future of the brand is certainly up for debate.

Perhaps not in terms of revenue. LVMH – Celine’s occupier – didn’t choose Slimane’s name at random. His work has proven to sell, and very well. Profits at Saint Laurent under his direction increased by 150 per cent, from 400 million to one billion euros across just four years. That financial increase is anticipated to propel even further at Celine – so that explains his introduction of menswear. Male models stole half of the SS19 show, and as noted by Slimane, their styles are set to be sold in female sizes, too.

So for lovers of Philo’s androgynous-wear, it looks as though Slimane’s male suits are the closest point of call. The only difference? Clothing structures are now catered towards the straight silhouette for emitting shades of cool, as opposed to billowing forms for emitting shades of chic. So will die-hard Celine fans accept this new materialisation, or is the house looking to expect a total change in customer? We’ll see next season.

A title of Celine 01 lies atop Slimane’s debut collection for the French house. With an SS19 show that read very much like a pilot episode of a new season, it’s certainly going to attract viewers from Generation Z. Will Philo’s cadre of contemporary women buy it? Yes – if they’re up for a sartorial shift to sequin-wear. You never know in fashion. But one thing stands clear: a new crowd are occupying Celine’s town, and they’re up for a rebellious time.

by Faye Fearon

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