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A changed font and lost accent makes no difference where talent is stagnant. Not even century gothic can change the narrative if the there is no story in the text. The story of Céline is one of a quietly cool and comfortable woman and you got the sense that she was in love with her life, and life choices. She was not trying to hold on to her youth rather she looked back on it with a particular fondness. There was nothing wrong with the old Céline logo, or its aesthetic; the Céline woman might have needed a little shaking up, a wild night here and there, but for the most part there was nothing the matter with her. And that is the main reason why Hedi Slimane, at the helm of Céline after the departure of Phoebe Philo, is the wrong person for the job. Slimane with the childish temperament and no pause button- I don’t particularly find him an inspiring clothes designer, he lives for the shock factor, the instagram likes and the flash. Therefore his first collection with Celine was always going to cause a few stirs- we saw what he did at YSL, where he was successful in making money but he revolved the brand around his signature so much so that anyone coming after him would always be a version of his or run the risk of being seen as irrelevant. It is dangerous that a brand be tethered to one man’s vision because it stagnates its growth.
Slimane threw out the baby with the bath water in order to make a point of his vision, something we have seen time and again. It might have been forgiven if he has attempted to doing something to liven and loosen her up, but in a way that kept the spirit of the Céline we have come to know, one that resonated with the woman Philo created and celebrated, a woman’s woman. But Slimane went back to what he knows best- rock and roll on steroids; gauche and overly complicated to the point of stack raving madness, the exact same thing he’d done in YSL. Slimane brought with him those sensibilities of forced coolness to an already really cool brand.
Céline wasn’t trying to be cool, she just was.
This new Celine girl- because this is designed for a woman desperately clinging on to her youth, hence girl- is trying way too hard, like a grown woman trying to be down with the kids. Everything might be forward, but nothing is new. Even the outrage is familiar, and knowing what we know about Slimane, why did anyone expect different from a man who himself tries really hard to be cool? That’s his aesthetic. Whilst a new designer must carve out his own identity, there needs to be a communication of understanding of the consumer and wanting to bring them along, ease them into a change in the journey, respect the history of the house; their house. More important, it should have shown respect for the consumer. Respect Slimane clearly lacks. He is obsessed with youth and skinniness, something the Celine woman was not. She ages well, is comfortable in her own skin. She embraces her age with defiance in a world that defies her confidence. Heidi Slimane is yet to acquaint himself with such a woman, which is why he would turn out a collection for prepubescent girls.
It might turn a profit, the formula worked in YSL, but ultimately it alienates a brand from its base- that profit is not long lasting; it costs something more than dollars. No sense of identity or panache just a gobbledygook of too much. Not reflective of the changing world around us, the tide of change women are involved in. Slimane shows no interest in that, this is a collection for the bourgeoise whose issues are not everyday issues, but first world problems. A stark contrast to Philo’s understanding of the everyday woman and involving her sensibilities in her collection from season to season. She it was that defined who the Céline woman is, and created her look with much love and respect. Slimane has no sense of that and no time for the realities of day to day. Forget everything else, the shame of it all, is that he is a designer incapable of growing the hell up.