A Leather Brick Road Ahead As Hedi Slimane Takes Over Céline

As with every fashion house appointment, on Sunday, much of the industry found itself split when news broke that Hedi Slimane would take the reins at Céline. After more than a decade at the French label, its fearless leader Phoebe Philo quietly stepped down, and, in typical Philo form, without word on what she’d do next. Now, a man who’s known for a fantasy type of heroin chic and backstage rebel aesthetic, who bans journalists who aren’t quiet about their distaste for his collections (and barely speaks to them, anyway), whose runways are notoriously white, has been tasked with continuing the legacy of a woman who designed for real life.

Though his first collection for Céline is set to debut in September, predictions of what lies ahead are already rolling in, setting the tone for what’s sure to be the most talked about show of the season. But for someone who’s heralded as one of the industry’s most controversial creators, will his return to the industry be as successful as his stints at brands like Dior Homme and Saint Laurent? While he works to get his head (back) in the game, his intentions, as announced by LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, are loud and clear.

Upon his arrival, Slimane will assume the role of artistic, creative, and image director of Céline. While his contributions to womenswear will surely be the target of most of the industry’s curiosity, given the Céline woman we’ve come to know and aspire to, Slimane will also introduce menswear, couture, and a fragrance, in addition to revamping advertising campaigns and stores. It’s a type of crash landing we’ve seen Slimane pull off in the past, given his complete and total remodel of Saint Laurent that resulted in high sales for the brand, but it’s also a feat very few who’ve set out to do the same have achieved. His quest for newness surely won’t fail him now.

The biggest question, though, is: Is this really the right move? Especially for a designer who’s reclusive ways have made him more of an industry shadow than an industry star? Sure, Slimane’s glam rock collections for Saint Laurent have earned him enough clout to be recruited for his next great venture. But at a time when the map to a more empowering and realistic approach to fashion is being redrawn, what place will the working women Philo strived so hard to cater to have in Slimane’s vision? We can’t yet be sure, which feels more uneasy than it does hopeful. But, as goes with these sorts of things, optimism is key — and a maturing of Slimane’s obsession with “young” and “cool” could be a part of the plan.

For now, Slimane’s studio for Céline will be based in Los Angeles, where his Saint Laurent quarters sat in a bubble of West coast trends. Additionally, a prototype studio and atelier will stay in Paris, and Philo’s studio in London will close. As we wait for Slimane’s takeover to commence, we’re looking back at his signatures during his time at Saint Laurent that could very well show up in his collections for Céline. See: nudity, grunge, asymmetry, a (mostly) black color palette, leather, and more. Whether that’s a good or bad thing, especially for a brand that practically defined contemporary minimalism, well, we’ll have to wait and see.

The Rock Cape
For three seasons, almost back-to-back, Slimane sent capes down the runway for his men’s and women’s collections. No word yet on why this is a thing, especially for a West Coast state of mind, but it’s the closest to Céline he ever came during his three years at Saint Laurent.

Fall 2014

Photo: Catwalking/Getty Images.

Fall 2015

Photo: Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images.

Fall 2015, Menswear

Photo: Catwalking/Getty Images.

Le Smoking, Le Always
A strong thumb for power suiting may be Slimane’s strongest asset to Céline, as the designer made it a hit with women, working and otherwise.

Spring 2014

Photo: Catwalking/Getty Images.

Fall 2015

Photo: Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images.

Spring 2015

Photo: Catwalking/Getty Images.

No Sense Nudity
Blatant nudity was a constant theme during Slimane’s tenure at Saint Laurent. But when it comes to male designers making bare breasts a top note in their womenswear collections — and in Slimane’s case, completely foregoing fabric altogether — it almost feels a little, well, anti-Céline (and less empowering as it does exploitive for the sake of shock value or Instagram). There’s nothing wrong with freeing the nipple, of course, but what’s the payoff?

Fall 2015

Photo: Catwalking/Getty Images.

Spring 2015

Photo: Victor VIRGILE/Gamma­Rapho/Getty Images.

Spring 2014

Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images.

Spring 2016

Photo: Victor VIRGILE/Gamma­Rapho/Getty Images.

Fall 2014

Photo: Catwalking/Getty Images.

The Bigger The Skirt, The…
Though it was more prevalent in the fall 2016 collection (which would be his swan song for Saint Laurent), Slimane has a propensity for keeping hems high and wide. With Philo’s swaddling, often oversize silhouettes, will we see this new type of party dress fly at chez Céline?

Fall 2015

Photo: Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images.

Fall 2016

Photo: Stephane Cardinale/Corbis/Getty Images.

The Kate Moss Effect
We all remember when supermodel Kate Moss stepped out in a next-to-nothing, model-off-duty slip dress. But Slimane couldn’t let it go. Sheer overlays will no doubt always be in fashion, but whether or not this will make it off the runway (and out of the house) is still up in the air.

Fall 2013

Photo: Victor VIRGILE/Gamma­Rapho/Getty Images.

Fall 2013

Photo: MARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images.

Spring 2016

Photo: Victor VIRGILE/Gamma­Rapho/Getty Images.

Asymmetry Or Bust
A type of silhouette that survived Slimane’s time at Saint Laurent and made it well into Anthony Vaccarello’s designs, too, the asymmetrical tendencies of Slimane will almost certainly make their way to Céline.

Fall 2016

Photo: Francois Durand/Getty Images.

Spring 2014

Photo: Catwalking/Getty Images.

Fall 2015

Photo: Stephane Cardinale/Corbis/Getty Images.

The French Kiss
Though he favored a standard rotation of flirtatious prints (see: florals, polka dots, and stripes), Slimane always found his way back to lips. It’s a motif that works well — just look at Diane von Furstenberg — but we’re not sold on their longevity.

Spring 2014

Photo: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images.

Fall 2015

Photo: Catwalking/Getty Images.

Spring 2014

Photo: Catwalking/Getty Images.

The Courtney (Love) Factor
In an utmost glorious return to the spotlight, rock heroine Courtney Love became one of Slimane’s most iconic muses. (And it’s no secret the two are pals.) Floral dresses and combat boots — and Kurt Cobain’s iconic white sunglasses — are not a new concept, per se, but it’s definitely still trending.

Fall 2013

Photo: Victor VIRGILE/Gamma­Rapho/Getty Images.

Spring 2016, Menswear

Photo: Victor VIRGILE/Gamma­Rapho/Getty Images.

Hats On Hats On Hats
Floppy hats and fedoras are ultimately a thing of the West Coast. But with their recent presence on the runways of brands like Dior and Jacquemus, perhaps Slimane will revive this pre-fall 2013 classic?

Spring 2013

Photo: Victor VIRGILE/Gamma­Rapho/Getty Images.

Spring 2015

Photo: Stephane Cardinale/Corbis/Getty Images.

Spring 2015, Menswear

Photo: Francois Durand/Getty Images.

Make The Pussy Bow French Again
While the pussy bow bit has come into the spotlight more recently than when Slimane was vibing it, it’s become its own symbol of resistance against the patriarchy — and fighting against society’s standards for women is at the heart of Céline’s DNA.

Spring 2013

Photo: Stephane Cardinale/Corbis/Getty Images.

Fall 2014

Photo: Stephane Cardinale/Corbis/Getty Images.

Spring 2013

Photo: Stephane Cardinale/Corbis/Getty Images.

An Agender Agenda
During his time at Dior Homme, Slimane became known for incorporating a sense of much needed femininity to menswear. He’s smart to keep this up come the introduction of Céline men’s.

Fall 2013, Menswear

Photo: Victor VIRGILE/Gamma­Rapho/Getty Images.

Spring 2014

Photo: Victor VIRGILE/Gamma­Rapho/Getty Images.

Fall 2015

Photo: Catwalking/Getty Images.

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