After outcry, Hedi Slimane U-turns on the Celine catwalk

Hedi Slimane showed off his Fall/Winter 2019/2020 collection. AFP
Updated 02 March 2019

After outcry, Hedi Slimane U-turns on the Celine catwalk

PARIS: Head designer Hedi Slimane turned his back on black Friday in one of the biggest about-turns in years on the Paris catwalk, as French-Algerian actress Leila Bekhti enjoyed a coveted front row seat at the show.

The actress wore a suave menswear suit to the show, complete with a skinny black tie and loafers. 

The superstar French designer, who is of Tunisian descent and is famed for his love of black, was dubbed the “Trump of fashion” after trashing the legacy of his much-loved feminist predecessor at Celine, Phoebe Philo, in his first women’s show for the brand in Octobe, AFP reported.

Rather than the too-cool-for-school night owls of his “Paris at night” debut, Slimane went all bourgeois as he tried to double back toward Celine’s more romantic roots.

His new cool gang are a glammy 1980s horsey set, with pleated riding skirts in earthy browns, greens and taupes worn with long shiny boots.

But the really big takeaway was the comeback of the culotte, with a whole cavalry charge of them galloping down the catwalk.

Surprising as that was, no one had predicted the return of silky pussy bow blouses worn under sensible coats and cardigans.

The man they once called the “Sultan of skinny” even got a few frilly blouses in too. All that was lacking was the pearls.

This embrace of romantic, comfortable country glamor, of the type that Hermes and others do rather well, left critics scratching their heads, with the New York Times’ Vanessa Friedman asking, “(The) joke’s on who?“

But for the fact that every model wore black sunglasses, it hardly looked like a Slimane show.

It also seemed strangely at odds with Slimane’s first media campaign for the house, which he released this week, featuring 17-year-old British model Hannah Motler.

Shot by Slimane itself, it was full of the dark rock ‘n’ roll glamor he is famous for.

Friedman, however, had no doubt that the oxblood shearling-edged thigh-high boots that Slimane teamed with jeans and camel coats and capes in the show were a winner.

“Betcha Celine is going to sell a lot of these boots,” she tweeted.

While there was some slight nods to the Philo’s legion of grieving followers — who have made her past Celine collections collector’s items — Slimane leapfrogged over her minimalism to go deep into the brand’s archives in search of inspiration.

His slash and burn attitude to the brand — getting rid of the French accent on its logo, calling his first show “Celine 01” as if the 70 years before his arrival at the label had not existed, and erasing Philo’s clothes from the label’s Instagram account, irritated many.

His first collection took an unprecedented kicking from English-speaking critics in particular, with social media spats between his defenders — the Slimaniacs — and Philo supporters, the Philophiles.

Slimane — who has a record of turning labels into cash cows — has form in ruffling feathers. He dropped the Yves from Saint Laurent when he took over at the iconic house in 2012.


What We Are Reading Today: Parisian Lives by Deirdre Bair

Updated 08 December 2019

What We Are Reading Today: Parisian Lives by Deirdre Bair

  • Parisian Lives “pulls you in slowly but deeply

Award-winning biographer Deirdre Bair explores her 15 remarkable years in Paris with Samuel Beckett and Simone de Beauvoir, painting intimate new portraits of two literary giants and revealing secrets of the biographical art.

Parisian Lives “pulls you in slowly but deeply. It isn’t just about writing about two famous authors but the memoir (of the) writer’s life as well and what it takes to be a biographer,” said a review published in goodreads.com. 

It said the stories relating to both Beckett and de Beauvoir “are different but equally compelling. These stories are page turners.”

The review added: “Drawing on Bair’s extensive notes from the period, including never-before-told anecdotes and details that were considered impossible to publish at the time, Parisian Lives is full of personality and warmth and give us an entirely new window on the all-too-human side of these legendary thinkers.”

It said that Bair’s memoir “is the interrelated stories of writing biographies of Beckett and de Beauvoir and Bair’s own journey of discovery while launching her academic career.”