Celine: Sibylline chic
Few designers are more admired by contemporary Parisians than Hedi Slimane, currently the French creative director of Celine. And one can understand why from this latest collection, a co-ed selection that managed to be rather bourgeois yet faintly subversive at the same time.
Staged late on Friday night inside the latest mammoth Celine tent built behind Napoleon’s tomb, this was a co-ed event, since Celine had not shown menswear during the French season in January. In the end, the majority of the looks were for men in this show, worn by the latest Hedi youthquake cast. Pre-show, hundreds of French kids practically fought to gain entrance to the show in a real fashion frenzy.
Slimane referenced all sorts of classic modern posh Parisian ideas – silken bows, culottes, redingotes, mini gilets – but then disrupted them elegantly with unexpected proportions and unlikely combinations. Who would expect a soft lambskin biker jacket to be cut with ruffled lapels? And what about the great combination of a rocker redingote with a Norfolk jacket in some ingenious tailoring? And you just know there will be a flurry of orders from rock stars for his duffle coats with golden frogging and bullion trim.
The cutting and silhouette were a timely reminder that when it comes to high-end runway brands, Slimane is the most important single tailor in fashion since Giorgio Armani.
His Celine ladies are a clever combination of impertinent Saint Germain mademoiselle, devil-may-care London rocker and moody Californian. Though for Fall 2020 they are posher and tonier than normal, heading out for night in shiny, silken, dresses; golden plissé frocks; and tinsel-like cocktails. Whoever he has in his atelier – whether a Young Turk, or an experienced hand – certainly knows what they are doing. When the weather turns inclement, the Celine girl marched in pleated culottes, high-heel boots and Yorkshire check capes.
Backed up by a sensational soundtrack – “Get Out of My Head” by Sofia Bolt – and staged before the latest ginormous light sculpture – with a thanks in the program to Fondation César – the show received a huge roar of approval from a giant bleacher of fans. Not a word of explanation in the program, by the way. Hedi might faintly irritate a lot of critics due to the recent predictability of his shows, but he does give the people what they want.
A post-show email did highlight the Sulky, an archive signature – an equestrian touch from 1966 developed by Richard Vipiana, the husband of brand founder Céline. And, indeed, these were the best array of accessories which Slimane has developed.
Sovietologists used to divine the leaves of the future by who stood where on the podium during the May Day rally in Red Square. Similarly, fashionistas interpret the hierarchy within LVMH by the presence, or lack of, Bernard Arnault at any show.
No sign of BA at Celine this evening, but with coronavirus casting a shadow over everything that may not mean much. His only daughter Delphine and her partner Xavier Niel did appear though. Through the closed backstage, they went to salute Slimane. The designer, however, was nowhere to be seen. Sibylline Slimane to the end.
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