Over and Over Again. Celine AW20

My reaction to Hedi Slimane‘s Celine follows the sinusoidal pattern of emotions I had about his work at Saint Laurent. First, I felt aversion. Then, for a moment, I was amused. In the end, I lost interest. Quite dangerously I’m entering the third phase. Consistence and assertiveness is key for a brand to succeed, yes. But Slimane’s stubborness – same venue, same models (now he even has the same faces he had back at YSL), pretty much the same music, and, what’s worst, same clothes, is quite the art of fashion procrastination. Yes, yes, I know the closing gowns are couture and they took hundreds of hours to embroider. And I’m aware that the 1970s nostalgia is a common, widespread thing for the last (and probably next) couple of seasons. Slimane doesn’t push the envelope, because it’s the aesthetic he loves and repeats over and over again. But he doesn’t even bother to rework it. It’s great that you can buy a pair of denim pants at Celine, or a corduroy mini-skirt, or a retro-lookig dress. But do we need a fashion show for this sort of clothes with more than 100 looks?

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

The 2010s / Hedi Slimane’s Saint Laurent

Believe it or not – I can’t! – but we’re heading towards a new millenium. So, how do you choose the most important collections, designers and labels of the decade? The ones that made an actual impact in the 2010s? Well, it’s not an easy task. It all began in September 2009 with New York’s spring-summer 2010 shows and ended when the autumn-winter 2019 haute couture shows wrapped in Paris. Few thousands of shows, by the way. There will be 19 posts (that’s really the only possible minimum!) reminding about the best – and if not the best, then strongly influencing – moments in fashion.

Hedi Slimane‘s Saint Laurent.

Hate it or love it, but Hedi Slimane’s time at Saint Laurent was one of the most influential moments in fashion this decade. The designer not only completely rebranded the brand (from the name – no more Yves – to the worldwide store appearances), introduced new “brand ambassadors” (Courtney Love, Beck, Kim Gordon, Joni Mitchell AND Marilyn Manson, all photographed by the designer for ad campaigns) and infamously called out the critics just for being honest (the Cathy Horyn beef!), but also polarised the fashion industry into two camps: Hedi fanatics, who go crazy for his Celine today, and Hedi sceptics. The designer implemented a youthful, rock & roll and very L.A. mood to the label, sending down baby-doll dresses, vintage-looking floral frocks, super-mini skirts and heavy boots with the attitude of the most rebellious girl in town. One of the most memorable collections he “designed” for the house? Definitely the autumn-winter 2013 show. It was inspired with the lifestyle of Venice Beach, California, and nodded to Yves’ The Scandal Collection from 1971, which was called “notorious” and “disgusting” by its guests (but in the end became iconic). As Tim Blanks pointed out about this Slimane collection, “almost nothing looked new”. Sloppy cardigans, plaid shirts and sparkly dresses accessorized with strings of pearls and black bows. While grunge was long dead, Slimane brought it back to life, and what’s the most ironic – the entire collection was sold out, even though the price tags were far, far from the thrift store originals. Of course Marc Jacobs’ final Perry Ellis collection was first, but Slimane appeared to be in the right place and right time with this line-up. I’m still on fence with Slimane’s era at YSL, but one thing’s sure: it was much more disruptive (and naughty) than Anthony Vaccarello’s work today for tha maison.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

The Daughter of a Bourgeois. Celine SS20

Last season, Hedi Slimane‘s Celine was about the Parisian, bourgeois woman. For spring-summer 2020, it’s about her daughter, who wears nothing else but denim, dreams of Woodstock and eventually takes part in street protests. But still, she’s bourgeois, no matter how she tries to rebel. Slimane doesn’t overstrain himself. His collection is again a 1:1 version of Celine’s 1970s archives, with a bit more of slouchiness and the presence of Yves Saint Laurent turbans (and, oops, it seems that Anthony Vaccarello pulled them off as well at Saint Laurent – the two brands are dangerously the same this season). While fashion drowns in nostalgia, there are designers who interpret the past in a fresh way – take Marc Jacobs or Paco Rabanne‘s Julien Dossena for SS20. In case of Hedi, noting how masterful he is in rebranding and shaking things up in the most of frustrating ways, it’s laziness. And confidence that anything will sell. Well. It will. Those denim culottes, fur coats and peasant dresses are destined to sell well, because they are easy, undemanding and chic. And, comparing to Vaccarello’s Saint Laurent, not so revealing. One more thing. Here’s to the Philophiles: there are parallers between Phoebe Philo’s Céline and Hedi Slimane’s Celine. Actually, Philo was really good at the bourgeois style, even though nobody noticed that at the time. Her swan song collection is the best example. But while Phoebe’s take on Parisian bourgeois aesthetic was modern, comfortable, unobvious and less strict, Hedi is literal. And there’s nothing noble about doing things in a literal way.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Bourgeois Woman. Celine AW19

Second season at Celine, and Hedi Slimane doesn’t cease to spark controversy and polarize the viewer: you either love or hate what he’s doing. This review’s going to be a bit different than usual, though. I really want to share a sort of ping-pong chat we’ve had with Jennifer (@readysetfashion), the visual merchandising manager at Blake and fashion magazine / print collector (take a look at her other account, @aparticularissue…), regarding Slimane’s autumn-winter 2019 collection. First, you’ve got to know that the designer took a 180 degree turn from his youthful, Parisian clubbing fashion we’ve had to witness last season (I still hate it!). He went to the maison’s archives and came back with a very literal reference: the 70s Celine, just as it was, suited for French, bourgeois woman. Knee-length, country-checked skirts, shoulder bags with horse-bit details, silk blouses, whiskered jeans, logo-print scarves, long boots… this woman isn’t here for partying. She’s off to Biarritz, Deauville or other ultimately French destination. From one side, it’s a collection filled with classics – classics that will always stay afloat forever. But from another side, it’s just so creatively absent. I’m utterly on fence with it. But back to my and Jen’s conversation. So, here’s how it went…

JEN: The question is does he have the right timing. I don’t see anywhere on the planet women wanting to dress like this today.

ED: I was thinking about this now. Do we really, really need it? Ok, he turned to the archives… but what now? We’re in 2019, not in the 70s after all.

JEN: Exactly. Shop at A.P.C. for cooler version of this look. Also, he can bookmark a decade like a champ. That is why people use Pinterest…

ED: LOVE THE PINTEREST PART! By the way, I had A.P.C. on my mind too. Jean Touitou does this 70s chic for seasons, wait, for decades! But he keeps it affordable and not so fussy.

JEN: I think it’s weird that everyone did an about-face with Hedi at Celine. That’s sort of scary. What does that say about today’s industry?

ED: Maybe that it’s fine to say something critical in the first place, yes. But when you’ve seen enough of it in advertising and are still invited to the show, you just have to be like: “j’adore!” Which is really sad in a way, because it’s always like that, in everything. Or maybe it’s Hedi who secretly manipulates people’s minds? Don’t know…

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Frustrating. Celine SS19

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I really tried not to be too negative about Hedi Slimane’s debut at Celine. I knew that it would never be as perfect as Phoebe Philo’s Céline. With her impact, her vision and her understanding of women, she’s irreplaceable at this maison. But to my own regret, I had a silly thought that maybe, maybe, two years of fashion hiatus lets a designer… develop? Progress? But no. Hedi Slimane stubbornly thinks that his aesthetic is it, wherever he designs, whether at Dior Homme, at Saint Laurent or at Celine. The debut collection had been called Paris La Nuit and was intended to be all about youth and late night party-ing. How predictable. The former Céline woman / client / fan dropped a tear the minute the first look walked down the runway – a polka-dot mini-dress with puffy sleeves. What’s worse, it seems to me that Hedi still considers today’s youth to dream about looking pale, unhealthily skinny and, mhh, dull? The model selection triggers another question: what about the diversity the model industry fights for lately? Slimane seems not to bother. Also, please note that in a pre-show interview, he clearly stated he’s solely interested in the young, and he will design for the young. He kept the promise. So we’ve got ageism, too! And yes, I know that elder models are still a rarity on the catwalks, but at least most brands don’t narrow down their target age in such a rude, discriminatory way. Let everyone dress the way they want and feel like – don’t exclude.

Slimane’s collection isn’t thought-provoking in a good way at all. I find it shallow and monotonous. Just clothes that literally look like his YSL bits: slim and grungy. To be honest, I even don’t find any sense in listing the women’s clothes he presented. The menswear part – completely new to Celine – is said to be unisex. We’re talking about very tightly fitted tuxedos, that yes, might be very well-tailored, but hardly empower anyone. Also, I smell some vague talk about gender fluidity, that desperately tries to make this collection even slightly relevant. It’s truly painful that LVMH, who is reportedly so assured of financial success coming from Hedi’s dictatorship (it’s not a typo), wants to ‘improve’ Celine this way. One word: frustrating. Conclusions: please, give Slimane his own namesake label, where his followers can go, and stay. Phoebe, I know it was you who left, but please consider coming back to us as soon as possible. There are French houses that need your help. There are people, who need you and love you!

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Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

Anthony Vaccarello for Saint Laurent

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On Friday, we “officially” discovered that Hedi Slimane is leaving Saint Laurent for good. And yesterday, the loud rumours were approved – Anthony Vaccarello is the new main man behind the French house. In fact, there is no surprise, as for me. Vaccarello’s appealing, sharp and super short skirts and mini-dresses have always felt very close aesthetically to Slimane’s skimpy silhouettes, while the femme fatale attire, which is  conveyed by the Belgian designer season-to-season might be just the perfect match for a post-Hedi era (and who knows, finally a good choice for Yves Saint Laurent’s legacy continuation). One thing’s sure – Vaccarello’s clothes that we know now would look perfect, fittingly perfect on the marbles that his predecessor placed in all the Saint Laurent flagships world-wide. But I hope that this quiet, Anja-Rubik-friendship-goal guy will take a riskier path in his new chapter, having his debut next September for the spring-summer 2017 season.

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Farewell, Hedi!

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After months of speculations, Kering has confirmed – Hedi Slimane is leaving Saint Laurent. Did Hedi realise that there is not enough place for him and Demna Gvasalia, the other designer who makes cheap-looking clothes with four digit price-tags? Let’s be clear – Slimane, during his three-and-a-half year tenure was the master of hypocrisy. Do you remember the autumn-winter 2013, when he presented mohair cardigans, studded boots and skimpy, leather dresses? Some said it was a modern-day nod to Yves Saint Laurent’s controversial Le Scandale collection. But some were more realistic, and not that optimistic – these clothes looked like grunge, but a la River Island circa 2010 rather than Kurt Cobain. Even though in the same year Courtney Love became the face of Saint Laurent. If talking of another odd things that happened during Slimane’s “era” – the tiaras from SS16. One costs, yes, 995 euros here. And it gets even more ironic, when you note that this is a prom-like, brass tiara embellished with rhinestone. Not with gems, silver or, huh, diamonds. I doubt it’s even Swarovski.

However, Hedi Slimane can be at least praised for the speed and desperation with which he had totally revamped the house. The interiors of the flagship stores, which used to be so boring with Stefano Pilati in charge, got the marble upgrade, while the advertisement campaigns – starring Kim Gordon, Joni Mittchel and lately, Jane Birkin – were always photographed by him, and had a cool, LA-rooted rock’n’roll spark. Also, it’s reported that the revenue of the brand increased in all categories, from accessories to clothes. People are buying Saint Laurent, so there is surely an undefined reason for Slimane’s success. But then, why did he leave? And will Anthony Vaccarello, whose aesthetic isn’t far from Hedi’s, get the point? Time will tell. But for now, let’s look back at the journey that Slimane took us to.

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Yves’ Glamorama. Saint Laurent AW16

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According to rumours, Hedi Slimane is leaving Saint Laurent – which, perhaps, would be a huge relief for some. Indeed, the autumn-winter 2016 collection felt like a good-bye wave, if you compare it to last seasons. And, at the same time, it was the most Yves Saint Laurent collection up to date, coming from Slimane’s “skinny pants and grunge shirts” world. The big, big shoulders of 80’s; dazzling, sequin dresses; killer heels styled with sleek smokings. For a moment, Saint Laurent’s soul and the famous Le Scandale era revived, and stole the Paris Fashion Week spotlight. But then, the models were distinctly Hedi, as all of them had a below “size 0” posture. If this was the last show coming from ex-Dior Homme designer, then it has been quite impressive, even though some of these mini-dresses looked overly cheesy, rather chic. But, if this was another outing from Slimane… then I wish he leaves the house right now, just as I did a few years ago, when he was appointed to be the new creative director. I know, I am an anti-Hedi person. And honestly, is Anthony Vaccarello the right choice for the house (the next rumour…)? His design aesthetic seems to be too close to Slimane’s, as for me.

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Sleazy and Smarmy. Saint Laurent SS16

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This, what Hedi Slimane is doing at Saint Laurent is rude. Simply impolite. After seeing the spring-summer 2016 collection, I wonder what other designers think. They surely feel an unbearable frustration. Keeping up with fashion industry, season-to-season, is hard. And when they compare their hard work with Hedi’s, they just retire for a ten-day escape to the country-side. Hedi Slimane is praised for nothing – or at least, for his truly effortless fashion which doesn’t need much of thinking. Saint Laurent’s fashion became as shallow as Moschino by Jeremy Scott, or even to a bigger extend.

So, the SS16 collection is an explosion of smarmy eroticism – sheer slip-dresses, trashy fish-net tops and kitsch, gold sandals look tasteless and definitely not as expensive as they are. There is no big deal that the feather boa was made by the Parisian couture assistants, if it looks like a stolen prop from an opera. The tiaras don’t need any comment. And  “free the nipple” moments were meant to be so “accidental”, that the overall effect felt pretentious and artificial. The solemn faces of models (and Agyness Deyn) just helped Hedi Slimane say out loud – “I am the designer at YSL and I really don’t care“. If everybody, except a few of critics and consciously thinking clients, adore this collection, then where is fashion heading off to? Hopefully not to a pair of basic jeans and an effing tank top.

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