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Thread: Op-Ed | Hedi Slimane’s “Saint Celine” Destroyed Phoebe Philo’s Legacy

  1. #1

    Default Op-Ed | Hedi Slimane’s “Saint Celine” Destroyed Phoebe Philo’s Legacy

    by Eugene Rabkin

    "In the months after Hedi Slimane’s appointment at Celine in January this year and before his debut show with the brand in Paris last week, the fashion crowd had split into two camps: the ones who think Slimane is a real designer who possesses a modicum of respect for the house he has taken over, and those who have long believed that Slimane is a one-trick egomaniac hellbent on remaking the world in his own image, because that’s what egomaniacs do.

    For those of us in the latter camp, the Celine show held no surprises. We just shrugged our shoulders in that resigned “What did you expect?” manner amid handwringing from camp A. What we witnessed from Celine could have been Saint Laurent or, during the menswear part of the show, late Dior Homme under Slimane. No one would’ve known the difference.

    As Tim Blanks wrote in his The Business of Fashion review, it was “the same old skinny black suits and skinny ties, the same old hiked-as-you-care dresses, the same old tiny bombers and bikers and Mod and Factory and new wave and no wave.”

    The keywords here are “same old,” because someone, somewhere will pipe up right about now with some blather about Slimane staying true to his vision. He’s not, because to stay true to one’s vision, one must have a vision to begin with. What Slimane has is a tired and trite five-letter vocabulary that has long been co-opted and watered down for the masses by high street brands from The Kooples in Paris to Topshop in London.

    A real designer understands that a vision is a dynamic thing, not a static one, and that his or her role is to build upon that vision to create something, if not entirely new, then at least fresh. A true fashion designer is never literal. What we got from Slimane were banal sartorial archetypes that we’ve seen way too many times. In fact, by now, Slimane’s banality is his most defining feature — a signature of sorts.

    There is much to be said for creating and developing an aesthetic direction, the way fashion giants such as Yohji Yamamoto, Helmut Lang, and Ann Demeulemeester have done. The richness of their oeuvre is evident if you care to look closely enough. But no amount of squinting will reveal any depth in Slimane’s body of work over the last 10 years. To put it in music terms, there’s a big difference between a minimalist composer like Philip Glass and a chimpanzee that has learned to hit a few piano keys over and over again.

    In the interview Slimane gave to Le Figaro before the show, he said, “You don’t enter a fashion house to imitate the work of your predecessor, much less to take over the essence of their work, their codes, and elements of their language. The goal is not to go the opposite way of their work either. It would be a misinterpretation. Respect is to preserve the integrity of everyone, to recognize things that belong to another person with honesty and discernment.”

    But the collection he presented was exactly the opposite of the cerebral chic Phoebe Philo had established at Céline (with the accent). With one blow, Slimane destroyed every single molecule of the Philo DNA. Instead of the strong, cerebral Céline woman Philo had championed, we got Slimane’s Celine socialite.

    The day after the show, the talk among the fashion crowd centered not so much on what Slimane showed — everyone I spoke with said that it was an unmitigated disaster — but about where a woman of a certain character and style would shop from now on.

    What remains to be seen is how this hot mess will sell. My prediction is that it will do well — because the masses want the familiar thing but with the right label on it. For them, a different label is fresh enough. Why not Celine? The marketing weight of LVMH will likely take care of sales. The menswear and perfume divisions Slimane has been charged with creating — things that from my understanding Philo had no interest in doing — will propel the brand financially.

    But while LVMH stands to profit from Slimane’s “vision,” fashion will not."

    Original article posted on Highsnobiety

  2. #2
    kitsch killer Faust's Avatar
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    Ahimsa - you are the most active poster on SZ this past week :-) I assume the lack of response from everyone else means complete agreement.
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    this show, just like the first YSL (SL) offering after the break... always makes me think back to peoples concerns and disappointment (on forums) when Beck(s/s05) first was shown. which is really sad to me because if u take the gleam off Hedi's DH career as a whole, only 3 or so years were really strong before the plane began to dive.
    i think foolishly, i expected to at least see something more akin to what he was doing right at the turn of the century with ysl or solitare... at least in the cuts and styling. however, i dont think the runway will ever escape the late 2000s regardless of the label attached.

  4. #4

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    Walking past a Céline store in Paris – still untouched by the name change and still carrying Philo’s creations – I couldn’t help but wonder how their staff must feel about it and if there are employees who quit after seeing SS19.
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    kitsch killer Faust's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nickefuge View Post
    Walking past a Céline store in Paris – still untouched by the name change and still carrying Philo’s creations – I couldn’t help but wonder how their staff must feel about it and if there are employees who quit after seeing SS19.
    Definitely, some have quit already.
    Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months - Oscar Wilde

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    kitsch killer Faust's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikemikemike View Post
    this show, just like the first YSL (SL) offering after the break... always makes me think back to peoples concerns and disappointment (on forums) when Beck(s/s05) first was shown. which is really sad to me because if u take the gleam off Hedi's DH career as a whole, only 3 or so years were really strong before the plane began to dive.
    i think foolishly, i expected to at least see something more akin to what he was doing right at the turn of the century with ysl or solitare... at least in the cuts and styling. however, i dont think the runway will ever escape the late 2000s regardless of the label attached.
    That's the thing - people are like, oh, but "Luster"! And I'm like, that's 14 years ago, come on.
    Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months - Oscar Wilde

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  7. #7

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    yeah i also remember a lot of talk ( i think even from you on i think fashionspot? ) as of VOTC or right after the production taking a hit as well. i know the made in france items were all gone buy then for a bit as well.
    i do wonder if the celine line will be even more expensive than SL (and by proxy that much more than DH ever was)

  8. #8

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    As mentioned, this is not a surprise at all. The 'fashion giants' are business people, they care about sales and pushing 'luxury' brands to the masses, rather than being an industry based around creativity, style and aesthetic vision, it is now only a game of numbers like most other businesses.

    Designers these days are chosen by their own 'brand' which is their social following, the more followers you have converts to more sales in the eyes of the business. This goes beyond the fashion industry, you'll find it in music (a quick reminder that Virgil Abloh is a DJ playing in Ibiza), Art and most other creative industries. These days you can be whatever you want, all you need is enough people to believe you, you need to be perceived as the character you're portraying and the reset doesn't matter, even artistic integrity.

    I wonder what Phoebe Philo thinks when she sees this...
    I love beautiful melodies, telling me terrible things.
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    Very late on this, but Faust said everything I was already thinking from seeing collection photos. Celine is now just another brand for Bernard Arnault to whore out for profit. What's completely embarrassing for Slimane is that he's worse than Demna Gvasalia IMO. The trend in mainstream fashion now is "ironic, self-aware" ugliness and anti-intellectualism - a true reflecton of the social zeitgeist. Of course the irony is that these people have their heads so far up their asses that they miss the obvious tone-deaf reproduction of cheap shit they were ridiculing only a few years ago, and that they're unironically taking inspiration from Cosmo Kramer, George Costanza, and Newman. But they at least know on some level they're selling bullshit (they just don't know the scope of the bullshit). Slimane is completely unaware he's selling bullshit and that he's trapped in a house of mirrors where all he can see are skinny Hedi boys for eternity. It really says something when you have less introspection than Vetements.

    Years ago we had McQueen (RIP), Gaultier, Galliano (for all his faults) - talented designers who were well aware of their irreverence. They knew when to reign it in (design-wise): they were perfect examples of walking that fine line that makes camp so difficult to achieve. Now with the current crop, of which Slimane takes center stage both in attention and obliviousness, we have entered kitsch is king fashion. For the camp exhibit The Met should just contrast designers like the former three, plus Vivienne Westwood and Comme des Garcons in one corner, and in another among piles of old tires and garbage Zoolander-style, the crap that passes for current trends. Make sure to have a Slimane retrospective so we can lay bare the fact that he hasn't done a damn new thing since his third(?) Dior Homme collection. To put that into perspective, Tom Ford was still at Gucci, Pilati had yet to join YSL, and I think Faust was still doing the 9-5 thing among the Patagucci bros. Good lord.
    An artist is not paid for his labor, but for his vision. - James Whistler

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    kitsch killer Faust's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sombre View Post
    Very late on this, but Faust said everything I was already thinking from seeing collection photos. Celine is now just another brand for Bernard Arnault to whore out for profit. What's completely embarrassing for Slimane is that he's worse than Demna Gvasalia IMO. The trend in mainstream fashion now is "ironic, self-aware" ugliness and anti-intellectualism - a true reflecton of the social zeitgeist. Of course the irony is that these people have their heads so far up their asses that they miss the obvious tone-deaf reproduction of cheap shit they were ridiculing only a few years ago, and that they're unironically taking inspiration from Cosmo Kramer, George Costanza, and Newman. But they at least know on some level they're selling bullshit (they just don't know the scope of the bullshit). Slimane is completely unaware he's selling bullshit and that he's trapped in a house of mirrors where all he can see are skinny Hedi boys for eternity. It really says something when you have less introspection than Vetements.

    Years ago we had McQueen (RIP), Gaultier, Galliano (for all his faults) - talented designers who were well aware of their irreverence. They knew when to reign it in (design-wise): they were perfect examples of walking that fine line that makes camp so difficult to achieve. Now with the current crop, of which Slimane takes center stage both in attention and obliviousness, we have entered kitsch is king fashion. For the camp exhibit The Met should just contrast designers like the former three, plus Vivienne Westwood and Comme des Garcons in one corner, and in another among piles of old tires and garbage Zoolander-style, the crap that passes for current trends. Make sure to have a Slimane retrospective so we can lay bare the fact that he hasn't done a damn new thing since his third(?) Dior Homme collection. To put that into perspective, Tom Ford was still at Gucci, Pilati had yet to join YSL, and I think Faust was still doing the 9-5 thing among the Patagucci bros. Good lord.
    CHURCH

    Did y'all see the new Celine bags Hedi put out? I mean, just...
    Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months - Oscar Wilde

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