hedi slimane sent out a collection brimming with ease, wearability and warmth for celine

The designer's sophomore collection for Celine ignited a frenzy. Some people looked embarrassed they'd ever doubted him; others were simply happy he knocked it out of the park.

|
02 March 2019, 3:47pm

While anxiously awaiting Hedi Slimane’s sophomore show for Celine to begin, some of my attendant neighbours came up with a bingo for what could be expected: smoky eyes, leather jackets, sequinned mini dresses, fishnets, tuxedos, red lipstick. The list went on, but you get the point. The expectation was that there’d be nothing new to see here, that it would be ‘Hedi Slimane by Hedi Slimane’, that it would be a facsimile of what we have seen him do for other fashion houses and indeed for Celine last season. In other words, the expectations were low. So it was with great surprise that this was a show that made everyone sit up. At one point, a diehard Philophile, Hedi-sceptic editor turned to me and confessed, “I don’t know what is happening here. I love it”.

1551539999391-AW19C-Celine-001

Fashion loves nothing more than an overnight U-turn change of fortune. It is an industry that relishes in almighty falls and precipitous rises. So when Hedi Slimane sent out a collection brimming with ease, wearability and warmth, it ignited a frenzy. Some people looked embarrassed that they had ever doubted him at all; others were simply happy he knocked it out of the park.

Embarasse Moi’s J’ai Un Plan set the mood for the show, which felt much more French, much less London. In the blacked-out space, black curtains dropped to reveal a blinkering box with the first model standing inside. She wore a pleated check skirt with a boxy blazer, her neutrally-hued scarf tied into a bow, knee-high boots firmly on the ground and her hands in her pockets. It was the zenith of Parisian insouciance, the kind the rest of the world goes mad for.

Six months ago, Hedi's debut show for Celine was a reiteration of all the archetypal sartorial tropes that we know and arguably have to thank him for. It didn’t pretend to be anything but that. It was him saying “F.U.” to those whom he has perceived to have plundered his distinct aesthetic. So essentially, it was territorial, with Hedi laying claim to what he felt was rightfully his: skinny noir tailoring, pumped-up prom dresses, after-dark sequins and off-duty rock ’n’ rollers.

1551540079914-AW19C-Celine-160

At the time, Hedi was critically lambasted for refusing to move the needle forward. Some accused him of misogyny; others simply categorised him as being lazy. Yet last night he celebrated heritage with clothes that were truly flattering; clearly an homage to the Céline Vipiana, the woman who created the label in 1945.

But while heritage is important, let’s be honest: Celine was never Chanel. How many people outside of France could say that they are familiar with its origins? In truth, it was a go-to for bourgeois French women who weren’t daring enough to go to the myriad Paris houses with real perspectives. It was never revolutionary, but it was put-together in that ladylike Parisian way: blown-out hair, expensive shoes, trench coat, silk scarf. Hedi took those classic (some would say banal) leitmotifs and gave it a sharper edge, a cleaner line and every so often, a hint of sparkle -- one check blazer has a thin layer of miniature translucent sequins to give it a slight glimmer as it moved. It was brilliantly banal.

1551540177131-AW19C-Celine-052

There were generously pleated check skirts, worn with boxy blazers with wide shoulders, high-waisted culottes paired with knee-high boots and pussy-bow blouses, gussied-up cardies with skinny jeans tucked into quad-grazing shearling boots. As for the retro-printed dresses, they came high-collared, long-sleeved and shin-grazing -- this from the man who sent out skirts and necklines so short that they warranted a discount just six months ago.

“I’m moving on -- you’re staying still ,” he seemed to be saying. Hell hath no fury like a fashion genius scorned.

1551540261282-AW19C-Celine-172
1551540329266-AW19C-Celine-175