2018 is, so far, shaping up to be quite an interesting year. While the fashion community was still coming to terms with Kim Jones exiting Louis Vuitton, LVMH – the multinational luxury goods conglomerate – swooped in to save the mood with the announcement that Hedi Slimane would take over the reins at Céline. The reaction was nothing less than stellar. Slimane will be taking on the role of artistic, creative and image director. He will be taking over from British designer Phoebe Philo, who left Céline after its Fall 2018 show, and is due to start his new role on February 1st with plans to set the French fashion house on a new direction by adding menswear, fragrance, and couture to its exports.
Hedi Slimane is most famous for his time spent at Yves Saint Laurent (2012-2016) where he took the French house and elevated it into the salacious style powerhouse it is today. During his time at YSL, Slimane famously dropped the Y in the brand’s ready-to-wear line (making it simply, Saint Laurent), increased annual sales, placed the brand into the forefront of pop culture, and refocused the brand to a new, younger target market. His collections were cool, rebellious, and sexy which sparked excitement and are responsible for the radical popularity the brand has been enjoying for the past few years.
LVMH is putting its full support in Slimane as his new title gives him full control over Céline’s collections and the brand’s image which encompasses advertising campaigns and store design. The Céline creative headquarters will also be relocated to California where Slimane takes residence. It can be safe to say that LVMH is betting heavily that Slimane will have similar success in expanding Céline as he did with YSL. This ambition comes at a pivotal time for the brand, which just now jumped onto the digital scene with creating an instagram account in 2017. Céline also has yet to really venture into the world of e-commerce (the company only offers online shopping to its customers in France). This provides Slimane ample amount of opportunity to play with and grow on.
But how much of Céline’s identity will evolve now that Slimane is taking over? Phoebe Philo, Céline’s previous creative director, designed for the working woman and started a movement at the brand by championing women with minimalist designs that served practicality and the female gaze. Her contemporary collections gave women looks to strive for in their daily lives, not just at a fancy party. These looks were for the grown women. Philo’s vision greatly contrasts Slimane’s idea of femininity which consists of sky high heels, skin tight leather, and hemlines that are undoubtedly banned in the Vatican. Despite his stark difference in taste, the reasoning for bringing on Slimane isn’t to make Céline into the new Saint Laurent, but to evolve and expand the brand into a dominating player in luxury fashion.
Slimane’s new collection for Céline will be presented this upcoming September.