Hedi Slimane at Celine: What to Expect

Words by Jody Hume | 9.26.18
Men’s Category Expert Dominik Halás has been collecting, buying and reselling menswear for years. He has interned at Robert Geller, managed the David Casavant Archive and consulted for top design houses such as YEEZY, Tom Ford and Helmut Lang Re-Edition.
The announcement of Hedi Slimane as the artistic, creative and image director of Celine earlier this year immediately divided the industry, months before any of the looks were even set to hit the runway. Slimane is famous for his uncompromising approach to design and severe attention to detail. To give some examples, his Saint Laurent store re-designs featured floating mirror walls referencing Mies van der Rohe’s iconic Barcelona Pavilion (1929) and he personally curated the stores’ playlists, which included classics like Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” and underground staples like “Favour” by The Wake. None of this was new for Slimane though, as his prior tenures at Dior Homme and Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche will reveal, so it won’t be surprising if he takes a similar approach at Celine. Let’s dig into and dissect the career of a man who is as loved as he is controversial, and posit what his next big move to Celine will look like.
Slimane has been given complete ownership of the branding and image of Celine, and he’s already begun his mission by changing the Celine logo and dropping its accent as a nod to the original branding of the 1960s — exactly what he did at Saint Laurent when he dropped the “Yves” and modernized the font. These moves shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone though, since he developed the branding for Dior Homme from scratch when it launched in 2001, and changed the tags for Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche Homme when he became creative director in 1997.
These moves are more than just for image though. Slimane always changes a brand’s interior tags as well, adding a full reference code system including the year of production at Dior Homme and Saint Laurent. By including this information for customers, Slimane ensures every piece he designs is attributable to him. He also mandates that all press and branding refer to his collections by his name, which can already be seen in the #CELINEBYHEDISLIMANE tags that have been on every one of the brand’s social media posts since Slimane took over. Looking ahead, we can see the rebranded Celine logo as Slimane’s stamp on the brand, making sure everyone knows to distinguish it from the house’s past.

Dior Homme Waxed Skinny Jeans | Dior Homme 2007 Leather Moto Jacket | Dior Homme Ankle Boots

Ever since his days at Dior Homme, Slimane has shot all of his own campaign imagery and styled every single runway show. He determines all of the music, what employees can wear, and even how the hangers need to be spaced on the racks. By controlling every creative aspect of the brand, Slimane ensures that his vision is executed precisely as he wants it — without any compromise. Part of this control has always been dictating collaborations with artists and musicians. For Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche Homme Autumn / Winter 2000 he selected Catherine Deneuve, a longtime muse of Yves Saint Laurent, to record a track especially for the show. At Dior Homme, fine artist Daniel Arsham designed the store’s fitting rooms. For Saint Laurent, Canadian musician Grimes drew original works for t-shirts for Slimane’s first collection. Saint Laurent eventually launched a long term artist collaboration series (along with a separate series on musicians) that has continued even after Slimane’s tenure came to a close.
We can expect Slimane will continue this approach at Celine, plucking the most talented rising stars from art and music circles to channel his look. Slimane’s online Photo Diary has always served as a digital crystal ball for what kinds of creatives will likely be featured next, and lately he’s still been shooting LA-based indie bands like Numb.er, just as at Saint Laurent. Slimane’s friends and photography subjects have already made headlines for Celine, most notably last month when Lady Gaga debuted the new “16” bag, which Slimane had allegedly started designing his first day on the job.

Saint Laurent Monogram Wallet on Chain | Saint Laurent Mini DressSaint Laurent Sneakers

Deciphering and predicting what the clothing will look like is a bit trickier, but Slimane’s approach to design always features several consistent details no matter what maison he is designing for. At Dior Homme, he reappropriated the classic Dior dart (originally developed by Christian Dior to enhance bust shapes on his dresses) and put it on the back of t-shirts, jackets and jeans as a brand hallmark. He also referenced the Napoleonic bee logo at Dior, a controversial alleged family crest of Napoleon Bonaparte, which was so successful that the women’s line adopted it nearly a decade after Slimane had left the company. At Saint Laurent, Slimane introduced two vertical seams on the backs of t-shirts and jeans, mirroring the darts he’d done at Dior. Both of these examples highlight Slimane’s interest in a brand’s history and heritage, as well as the history of France itself, as Slimane is French and has only ever designed for French brands.
Given this track record, what will Slimane’s Celine brand hallmarks be? Hedi is known for always touching back to a brand’s heritage (something he’s already done with the new Celine logo) so it won’t be surprising if he revives the Celine red elephant logo, designed by French artist Raymond Peynet. He’s already confirmed the show venue for his debut Celine outing as the Hôtel des Invalides, France’s historic complex of museums and monuments dedicated to the French military.
If one thing is certain, Hedi Slimane will craft Celine exactly to his own tastes. We can expect the same trademark razor sharp silhouettes and punky je ne sais quoi attitude that have been his trademarks since his early days at Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche. While Slimane reportedly has great respect for Philo’s work, he will replace her wildly successful voluminous shapes and intellectual sensibilities with a new global vision for the brand, most likely based on Slimane’s luxury stagewear rocker chic aesthetic. LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault expects Slimane’s vision to propel the brand to grow by €2 – €3 billion within five years; penetrating markets such as menswear, streetwear, and couture, which Philo had dabbled in but never fully developed while at Celine. Will the bet pay off in sales and critical reception? Only time will tell.
Want to snap up a piece from the Philo-era archives? Shop our Celine edit here.

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