hedi slimane presents the first ever celine menswear show
A new dawn.
Presented with a blank page of what Celine menswear could be, Hedi Slimane presented a well-tailored teenage rebellion. His autumn/winter 19 men’s debut saw him cut a new look for the brand, powered by the infectious energy and optimism of the youthful subcultures of the past, placed in the here and now.
“At Celine, the weight of the past is not as strong as at Dior or Saint Laurent,” Hedi had explained in a rare interview with Le Figaro before his debut last year. “We can break free of it more easily.” Despite the warning, his silhouette-shifting, sharp-suited offering still upset the house’s Philophiles. It was always going to be thus, long before Hannah Motler opened the show in a pouffed up polka dot dress followed by 95 looks that celebrated club culture, fans of the past had already made up their minds. Closed-minded reviews read like obituaries, and a piece of ridiculous hyperbole in the Hollywood Reporter asked: Is Hedi Slimane the Donald Trump of Fashion? A quick look around the shows of Paris and beyond will see how his first Celine collection has pushed a new movement of sartorial elegance forward.
Undeterred, Slimane presented his most powerful menswear collection in years. Within the parade of skinny suits, skinny ties and dark shades, and an abridged history of the world’s greatest coats, you didn’t have to look too hard to see Hedi pushing newness, most obviously in the high-waist pleats and cropped, almost-baggy trousers.
For its autumn/winter 19 men’s debut show, Celine constructed a big black box outside in the heart of Paris that afforded guests with views of the Eiffel Tower, the Luxor Obelisk on the Place de la Concorde, and the Arc de Triomphe. Before the show, the space was filled with the sounds of classical favourites. As the show began, Slimane lit a giant geometric orb and the post-punk sounds of Vancouver-based multimedia collective Crack Cloud flooded the space, as his uniform of youth stormed in. As the light orb pulsed, the new Celine was refracted into the Paris night as 70s no wave saxophonist James Chance played out the show.
The autumn/winter 19 men’s season may well be remembered for the end to streetwear’s dominance. From Raf Simons’s sharp-shouldered demonstration of his attitude, to Kim Jones’s couture-powered modern elegance, it has been the season of new sartorialism. As one of the sharpest suits closed the show, there was a flickering full-stop applied to the season, and in the moment, it was hard not feel that Paris belonged once more to Hedi Slimane.
Slimane has continually drawn his creative strength from his passion for photography and music. So it should come as no surprise that he returned to the emerging sounds and scenes of his new home, London. The show notes explained that the collection took shape when Slimane was travelling between Los Angeles and London, listening to emerging British bands. For him, the collection was “a Polaroid snapshot of this young British creative community”. The result was a sharply-tailored trip through British subcultures -- from mod to new wave, suedeheads to post-punk.
“Traditional tailoring is at the heart of the collection, pushing further the new rectangular volume that I began last season for Celine,” he continued in the show notes. “Tweeds, Donegal and cashmere overcoats worn over Celine tailored suits or leather jackets define my research into suspended proportions.” It bordered on coat pornography at times, with the sequinned Crombies, oversized car coats, leopard print drape coats, shearling duffles and classic leathers providing the rock-infected filth.
Once again, Hedi proved that the new Celine is one to covet, and as his collection was reflected onto the streets of Paris, we could already see the sartorial revolution in action. Such was the persuasive power of Slimane's last suited sea change, back in 2000 Karl Lagerfeld famously shed six and a half stone in order to fit into Dior Homme. 19 years on, what will you do to wear Slimane's Celine?