Hedi Slimane to take reins at Céline

Nadja Beschetnikova
January 23, 2018

It must be frustrating. Designers were eager to present us their creative ideas and the hottest news from the Fashion Week is not even about trends. But about a man who will defenitely amaze us with some new ones very soon.

Hedi Slimane has been appointed the new artistic, creative and image director of Céline and will commence his role in February of this year. First collection powered by Slimane will be presented at Paris Fashion Week in September.  Besides the menswear Slimane will look after couture and fragrance. 
Slimane takes over at Céline from Phoebe Philo, who announced she would be leaving the house after its Autumn 2018 presentation in March, and it must be a strategic choice of LVMH Group since there're plans for first ever menswear line by Céline.

“I have been a great admirer of his work since we collaborated on Dior Homme, which he launched to global critical acclaim in the 2000s. His arrival at Céline reinforces the great ambitions that LVMH has for this Maison,” LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault said.

Hedi Slimane has an expirience which perfectly corresponds to these ambitions.  He was not even thirty when Pierre Bergé installed him in the position of ready-to-wear director of men's collections at Yves Saint Laurent and later Slimane became as well artistic director.
He acted as a medium between spirits of music and spirits of fashion. As Slimane designed for Dior Homme he definetely had rock stars on mind, and he transformed stages into catwalks as he created stagewear for legendary David Bowie and bands such as Franz Ferdinand, The Libertines and Daft Punk.

Slimane's background in photography makes him a great visualizer and it helped him to revitalise this staid world of meanswear. He transformed the male silhouette with short cut jackets and skinny trousers, picked up his models from the street and commissioned original soundtracks for his runway shows, created by popular artists such as Beck, The Rakes and Razorlight. At YSL he transformed even a name: the ready-to-wear line was changed to Saint Laurent.
Slimane's approach attracted criticism for these efforts at “cheapening” the house by bringing music and youth subcultures, but all the creative escapades have been rewarded. Slimane helped Dior's couture business to increase volume and profit by 41 percent in 2002. In April 2002, Hedi Slimane was the first menswear designer to receive the CFDA award for International Designer.

At Saint Laurent (Slimane came back to the fashion house after seven years with Dior) he contributed to an outstanding growth of annual sales. The French brand has more than doubled its revenue from €353 million in 2011 to €707 million in 2014. In the second quarter of 2015 sales were increased by nearly 27%.
The way Slimane shakes fashion industry hardly would consolidate the basic concepts Phoebe Philo put into the brand. At a time when feminism plays an important role and voice of a woman sounds louder and louder, Ms.Philo created a brand in which these women could find a personification of these values. No doubt Slimane shouldn't be afraid of womenswear. He succsefully proved it as he dressed female celebrities including Madonna and Nicole Kidman. But Céline surely will witness changes and probably lose its charm for all potent and ambitious, independent and confident women. One of the Slimane's signature feature was blurring the gender lines with unisex silhouettes (his skinny suits at Dior Homme were borrowed by many women).

Looks from Saint Laurent Autumn-Winter collection 2014 designed by Slimane

Céline Spring-Summer 2018 collection at Paris Fashion Week

Slimane's penchant for youth culture can anyway play a significant role in a digitization of the brand. Yet the brand was a digital laggard: it only launched an Instagram account in 2017. In this aspect the fact that Slimane considers millenial consumers as a target could be of advantage as well. The move comes at a time when e-commerce is one of the most significant growth opportunities in the luxury market and Céline started to offer online sales in France, and has plans to expand to the rest of Europe and, eventually, the United States in 2018.

Slimane, well-known as a photographer as well, concentrated all his creative power on the photography projects as he exited Saint Laurent in April 2016 and moved to LA. Through the danger of a permament jet-lag, he is apparently very happy to go back to design again.
"I am delighted to join Bernard Arnault in this all-embracing and fascinating mission for Céline. I greatly look forward to returning to the exciting world of fashion and the dynamism of the ateliers," commented Slimane.

Generally Slimane has there massive opportunities to start another revolition. He's just that kind of guy: his every action has been observed, discussed, dissected and debated. And we keep our ears open for an intriguing piece of news.