How Hedi Slimane is sticking to his signature style, and why that’s quite possibly genius.
While the rest of the fashion pack are making strides (see Vivienne Westwood’s militant advance towards responsible manufacturing), Hedi Slimane remains faithful to the familiar. However, as the master of marketing’s hype remains unrivalled, this could be the most tactical move the industry has seen in years.
Hedi Slimane hasn’t stepped into the shoes of Phoebe Philo. He’s walked all over her understated, mature aesthetic in buckled biker boots. After handing over the keys of Saint Laurent to Anthony Vaccarello in 2016, Slimane hasn’t spent the past 2 years establishing a new concept. Hedi’s Celine girl - much like his Saint Laurent girl - is a teenage rebel ready to party. These were his same crotch skimming dresses, rock n’ roll biker jackets and cocktail hour sequins. In fact, with his original collection still available to buy at Saint Laurent, Celine really aren’t offering our wardrobes anything unfamiliar. Yet it’s still (probably) the most sellable collection of fashion month.
But in one of the fastest moving industries in the world, can LVMH really afford for one of their biggest labels to stand at the back of the innovation queue? Slimane has sauntered back into the industry’s watchful eye with the same sexy nonchalance that he left with, and the ever sceptical fashion crowd have a catalogue of questions, (although don't be fooled, he won't be answering any of them). The politics of dressing have moved on since his departure. 2018 is a tense climate of #MeToo and #TimesUp, but Slimane is clinging on tightly to his passé super-skinny, porcelain skinned teenage muse. With all eyes on body and cultural diversity, the ever familiar Slimane classic might have cut it too short this time.
Yet despite the onslaught of initial criticism, the fashion crowd have chewed it over. Actually, they’re warming to it. It’s sellable (totally wardrobe worthy), timeless (Slimane is renowned for his eternal cool), and its worked in the past, (after all, his reign at Saint Laurent did increase sales by 150%). This was far from the most radical show of SS19, and it certainly steered clear of fashion’s experimental shifts, (contrary to the likes of Vivienne Westwood and Stella McCartney). But Celine ready-to-wear has been the most talked about collection, with all its classic rebellion.
The hype was such that the show started an entire month before Paris. Celine’s Instagram was wiped, the new house logo announced (Saint Laurent round 2: Slimane strikes again) and his debut designs revealed via Lady Gaga’s insta. Is Hedi, in all his genius, proving that fashion is as much about hype as it is about clothes? Success in this industry comes with making a statement - one that the world can’t stop talking about. Mission accomplished, he’s driving journalists insane. He’s proved that, in this digital age, an eccentric display of couture is no longer enough to mesmerise the industry. He’s given us classic tailoring on white teenagers. Its far from innovative. But it came with a hype that’s totally stolen the eyes, ears and hearts of the fashion pack for SS19.
All images www.vogue.com/fashion-shows/spring-2019-ready-to-wear/celine