New York City – The bitterness in experiencing déjà-vu is its ability to make you remember – or relive – something you may not want to.
At Celine under creative director Hedi Slimane, that emotional phenomenon is commonplace.
People in fashion today are looking to be shocked. Many recent collections, especially the streetwear heavy, strike me as wearable yellow journalism. The headlines – or accessories – are saucy, ridiculous even, but when it comes down to the body text – the substance of the actual garment – the sartorial narrative falls flat. But the reason Slimane’s takeover at the French fashion house is disappointing is not even that it's overly sensational – it’s that it’s sensationally half-hearted.
In New York, the first Celine flagship designed during Slimane’s tenure is no exception. The similarities between his first flagship for Saint Laurent and the Madison Avenue Celine are quite fraternal; marble, sharp spatial lines, mirrored surfaces and fluorescent lighting are aplenty in each. There are new elements of warmth, although they seem only accessory to what's been done previously.
Slimane’s spatial vision, like his sartorial, is impossibly sexy. Though his time at Celine thus far has been shadowed by the legacy left by previous creative director, Phoebe Philo. Philo’s impression on the brand is not easily forgotten by fans: there is an Instagram account, called Old Céline, with over 218,000 followers dedicated to actively remembering her collections. There, the accent has remained (like omitting Yves from YSL, Slimane has controversially removed the accent from the brand’s name). Since Slimane has taken the wheel of Celine, popular fashion platform Diet Prada has taken to posting side-by-side visual comparisons of Slimane’s work for Saint Laurent to that for Celine like clockwork each time a campaign drops or a collection is shown. The differences? For now, like they flagships, they're almost indiscernible.
As there are more international openings scheduled, it’s well worth speculating how long people will continue to buy into a story that Slimane has told so many times before