Hedi Slimane, Saint Laurent, and Celine: What This Means for Fashion (and Resale).
There was no fashion week moment more highly anticipated than Hedi Slimane’s debut as the creative director of Celine — or more criticized, confusing, and controversial.
A quick recap: The much-adored designer Phoebe Philo stepped down from her position at Celine in 2018. In her years at the helm of the brand, Philo brought new life to the 80-year old fashion house, and, at a time when many of the industry’s most influential houses are run by men (Chanel, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, for example), was seen as someone who truly understood women: what they wanted, what they needed, how to make them feel beautiful and sexy in an elegant, understated way. Every Celine piece she created balanced form with function, beauty with utility.
After her departure, it was announced that iconic designer Hedi Slimane — most recently the head of design at Saint Laurent — would take her place. Buzz ensued. (The board of Celine likely chose Slimane as Philo’s successor because of his ability to make sales: during his time at Saint Laurent he reportedly “roughly tripled” the brand’s revenue.)
Slimane, unlike Philo, is not a subtle designer. His style is singular, individual; it has carried over into every collection he’s created throughout his career. Most recently, Slimane’s club-kids-of-the-80s aesthetic found a home at Saint Laurent, where he popularized broad shoulders, bubble skirts, leather jackets, and ripped fishnets.
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Perhaps fashion fans shouldn’t have been surprised at Slimane’s first Celine collection, which was more-than-reminiscent of his time at Saint Laurent. Instead of Celine’s typical palette of neutrals, Slimane showed an almost-exclusively black and white collection (with hints of silver, red, and gold for emphasis). Instead of Celine’s loose trousers and flowing sweaters, Slimane offered tight mini dresses and nipple-bearing sequins.
The response to Slimane’s Celine collection was, uh, not good, and has turned Philo era designs into collector’s items. While a brand like Celine has always been considered an investment piece, the sudden high demand has spiked Celine sales at Fashionphile up 15%, great news for Philophiles and re-commerce alike.
Critics claimed that Slimane “obliterated” the brand; but Slimane had a different interpretation: “Above all, this crystalizes a truly French spirit of anti-conformity and freedom at Celine,” he said. Now, people are starting to warm up to his approach. Read more about Slimane’s bags for Celine that are drawing attention.
As lovers of luxury of all kinds, we’re torn. The bags that Philo created while at Celine are among our favorites: the utilitarian Luggage Tote, the easy-to-wear Phantom, the sophisticated Trotteur, the chic Box Bag. It’s safe to say that Slimane won’t be continuing to make accessories in this vein (his first Celine collection featured small, punk-inspired purses and lots of metallic gold accents).
At the same time, Slimane’s rock-and-roll vibe will always have a home on FASHIONPHILE. His standouts from Saint Laurent — like this metal-tasseled clutch and monogram metallic crossbody — are modern classics, don’t you think?