What Does Céline Look Like Under Hedi Slimane?
When Phoebe Philo exited Céline at the end of 2017, the fashion world was collectively shook.
Philo's name had become synonymous with the brand, her minimalist aesthetic becoming Céline's ethos. She had a knack for launching the careers of stunningly natural models like Daria Werbowy. One of the most iconic Céline campaigns to date featured Joan Didion in a black turtleneck and large sunglasses. It's safe to say that Philo made her mark on the fashion house.
So, who could replace the Queen of minimalism and cool?
Enter Hedi Slimane: the tarnished Prince of grunge and leather after his short tenure at Saint Laurent. Although they could not be more different, Slimane knows how to make waves as well as Philo. Upon his hiring as Creative Director at Yves Saint Laurent, he changed the name of the company. Yes, this young designer took it upon himself to alter the name of a storied fashion house. Slimane even based his studio in L.A. instead of at the house's headquarters in Paris. He went on to produce collections that changed the way we thought about Saint Laurent. The brand quickly became an Insta-girl favorite, with its sexy, leather-heavy aesthetic.
After Slimane left Saint Laurent in April 2016, I wondered where he would end up. Céline never crossed my mind as an option.
Is this normal in fashion?
To put it bluntly - yes.
Although we've come to expect certain brands to have a consistent aesthetic (Chanel, Oscar de la Renta, and others), fashion tends to be open to change. Even when brands are named after their iconic founders, a new Creative Director often comes with a complete switch in, well, direction. We've seen this occur with labels like Diane von Furstenberg, Gucci, Givenchy, and Dior.
It's not entirely out of the ordinary for a brand like Céline to search for fresh energy in a new Creative Director and, let's face it, it's pretty hard to top Phoebe Philo.
What can we expect from the new Céline?
One of the most appealing aspects to this hire is Hedi Slimane's accessibility. For as long as I've followed Céline, it has always felt slightly out of reach. Whether it was the sophistication of their print campaigns or my inability to pronounce the brand's name in perfect French, Philo's work signified class and wealth that I didn't have. Meanwhile, Slimane for Saint Laurent always had my attention. Leather jackets paired with tiaras, miniskirts with combat boots - that was more my speed.
I'm hoping that in this new era, Slimane will meld his signature L.A.-obsessed aesthetic with Céline's undeniably French look. I can see him bringing the label to the street style set, which will no doubt make diehard fans of the brand upset. Expect a shift in their print campaigns as well, including more Insta-girls and less washed-out coloring. In fact, expect more black and white photography once Slimane is at the helm.
The one thing I wouldn't bank on: Céline beginning to look like Saint Laurent. It has been a few years since Slimane produced his last collection for Saint Laurent and he has undoubtedly grown creatively since then. I think that with this new Céline we can expect a more curated take on Slimane's typical maximalism. I'm thinking clean lines and a sexified French girl vibe, with just a little bit of leather thrown into the mix.
With the future of Céline sorted, there's only one question that remains. Where will Phoebe Philo go next? For that answer, we'll just have to wait and see.