Old wine in a new bottle? Or a modern revolutionary?

Hedi Slimane is back and how! The former artistic director of Saint Laurent returned from a two year hiatus with ‘Paris La Nuit’, his debut collection for Celine. The collection was the crescendo to a series of moves executed by the veteran, from dropping the accent in the logo - reminiscent of the change from Yves Saint Laurent to Saint Laurent - to a complete wipeout of Celine’s social media before his takeover. The master of hype also ensured his designs debuted first on the arms of mega popstar, Lady Gaga, who as we wrote about earlier, is having a moment currently with the release of her film ‘A Star is born’.

The notoriously reticent designer spoke to French daily Le Figaro, putting forth his succinct vision for the label: “At Celine, the weight of the past is not as strong as at Dior or Saint Laurent. We can break free of it more easily.” In the interview, he details his return to Europe, finding inspiration in Parisian nightlife and the importance of dressing the ‘youth’. “I have always photographed, documented and dressed the youth. It’s been at the heart of everything I’ve done so far, in photography and fashion. It reigns on my catwalks, house after house.”

Breaking away completely from the former creative head, Phoebe Philo’s vision, Hedi Slimane’s collection was reviled and loved in equal measure. The 96 strong collection of womenswear and menswear was stamped with the designer’s distinct trademark of short glittery dresses and androgynous tailoring.

For many a Philophile, the collection was seen as a direct affront to the feminist narrative woven by Philo, where the Celine woman dressed for herself first. Slimane’s vision seemed reductive for die-hard fans and does appear to revisit the ‘sex sells’ trope. For others, the collection added nothing fresh to the repertoire of designer or label. As noted by Diet Prada, the infamous Instagram account that calls out knockoffs and other injustices in the fashion industry, some of the dresses seemed like they were directly lifted off Saint Laurent’s runways from Slimane’s time with the fashion house!

While the collection left many wanting more, fans of Slimane’s well-established penchant for unisex clothing were delighted to note that the entire menswear collection of suits was available for a female audience. The range of accessories was also a hit, from the sparkle-rimmed glasses to the double-C handbag and the lacquered python shoes, sure to be a money-maker for the label.

One thing is clear: it is an exciting position for the designer tasked with elevating the mid-size brand to a revenue juggernaut of 2-3 billion euros in five years - and for us, too, watching from afar!

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