Celine AW19: The humbling of Hedi Slimane

One Céline, Two Celine, Old Céline, New Celine


After uproar and outrage following Hedi Slimane’s first show in September 2018 as the new Creative Director of Céline, there was a cry for help; a cry for comfort; a cry for #oldcéline. T-shirts were made, posters were printed, and Instagram influencers were begging for the return of the chic stylings of former Creative Director, Phoebe Philo. Reviews came in thick and fast, with some calling Slimane's first show a “gust of toxic masculinity.” He had ripped the femme-focussed Céline brand to shreds, as he reverted to centring on the male gaze with “brutally slender” and “fastidious” looks.

However, six months on, and with the Céline AW19 show at Paris Fashion Week, Hedi seems to have been humbled, and gave the most magnificent show on Friday evening. It certainly is a return to Old Céline, but with his own delightful twists. Blazers, plaid culottes and structured suits garnered the runway with cool aviator sunglasses and over the shoulder bags to boot. It seemed like everyone agreed that it was a win for Slimane and a win for women; Monica Ainley, a journalist and podcaster, commented: “yay for @celine for women with day-jobs and bodies.” A return to the bourgeois and timeless chic has gone down a treat for the French fashion house, however it implores the question: why can’t a new creative director impose a new vision on a brand?

Hedi Slimane has been known for his specific style, with sultry womenswear looks, a vision which he carried with him whilst at Dior Homme and Yves Saint Laurent. He dressed Madonna, Mick Jagger and Jack White and perpetuated sex through all of his collections. He is known for an alarming change when entering a fashion house (renaming YSL to Saint Laurent and removing the honourable accent from Celine.) He has always shaken things up, so much so that Karl Lagerfeld was said to have lost 6 stone in order to wear one of Slimane’s trademark skinny suits back when he was at the helm of Dior Homme. So why was everyone so shocked when his debut Celine collection was different from his predecessors’?

The AW19 Celine collection is a dream, and I would happily wear any of the beautiful looks that Slimane has created, however, I worry about the impact of social media on the future of fashion individuality. Everyone’s opinion is public, and a trending hashtag can butcher the success of a show. If designers stick to the template of what they have been left, we will never achieve fresh and innovative collections. I liked old Céline, I also like new Celine, but I think that our critiquing should perhaps be kept to a less aggressive tone, in order to safeguard innovation and the creativity that new directors could bring to brands.


Words by: Tori Sharp