Ahead of his debut show, the designer spoke to Le Figaro about Paris, Phoebe Philo, and why he axed the accent from the house’s logo
After being announced as artistic, creative, and image director all the way back in January, we’re now only three days away from Hedi Slimane’s debut at Celine (sans accent). Up until now, the famously reticent designer has not spoken about his appointment at the Parisian house or his plans.
That is until today, with Slimane telling all to French newspaper, Le Figaro in an exclusive interview. Translated on Business of Fashion, the interview reveals everything from taking inspiration from California and Paris, to the divisive removal of the accent from previous designer Phoebe Philo’s Céline logo. Elsewhere, Slimane discusses social media, style, and the fast-approaching debut show that takes place on Sunday.
Read the full interview here, or read our ten takeaways below.
IT MIGHT BE TIME FOR HIM TO LEAVE CALIFORNIA...
While Celine is Paris-based, Slimane hasn’t yet made the move from California, where he’s been living for a decade. “I am thinking about it. I still haven’t made up my mind,” he says.
For the designer, living in LA post-Trump has “created quite a strong uncertain environment” and he notes that the “authenticity is slowly getting lost”. “I’m still living in Los Angeles, but it’s different,” he continues.
… BUT PARIS IS STILL INSPIRING TOO
“Paris may be the only capital left in the world where the words ‘wandering around’ still make sense,” Slimane says of his birthplace and home of Celine. “I infinitely like Paris by night. It’s a pity that the city seems determined to close down interesting places like these and turn its back to the world of the Parisian night. The lights still remain, though. The lamp posts working their magic, the neons in the cafés, the sparkling Parisian youth and the energy of the streets.”
RULES ARE MEANT TO BE BROKEN
Die-hard Philophiles are likely still reeling from the removal of the accent from the old Céline logo – who knew such a small detail could cause such outrage? Rather than a way of marking his territory, Slimane says it’s a necessary step to evolve fashion houses. “It was anticipated but it had to be done,” he explains. “The major houses are alive. They must evolve and find the essence of what they truly are.” As for the backlash? “It’s normal,” he says. “We don’t shake things up to be subtle. When there’s no debate, it means there’s no opinion, which brings us to blind conformity.” Sorry naysayers, Slimane remains unbothered.
ON PHOEBE PHILO AND HIS PREDECESSORS
While designers like Michael Kors have previously helmed Celine, Phoebe Philo is most synonymous with the house after spending a decade in charge. Slimane is more interested in focusing on the future over the past. “Our respective styles are identifiable and very different,” he says of Philo.
“We don’t enter a fashion house to imitate our predecessor, much less to take over the essence of their work, their codes and elements of language.” He says his new chapter for the house will preserve the integrity of Philo and other predecessors while also bringing his own codes. “The goal is not to go the opposite way of their work… we have to be ourselves, without any stance, against all odds,” he adds.
BLACK IS THE NEW BLACK
“Black is sharp and straightforward,” Slimane explains on what we imagine is his fave colour (or lack of it). “It is indivisible from my fashion style and my photography.” Unsurprisingly, like his design legacy at Saint Laurent, new Celine will also feature a lot of black. “For the creation of exclusive fabric or leather for Celine, black requires a very special attention,” he continues. “We went through hundreds of samples in order to find the perfect black jacket or the perfect little black dress.”
YOUTH IS STILL EVERYTHING
As is his raison d’être, Slimane wants to bring youth to his work at Celine. “I have always photographed, documented and dressed the youth,” he says. “It’s been at the heart of everything I’ve done so far, be it in photography or fashion. It rules over my catwalks, house after house.” As the teasers on Instagram have already revealed, Slimane’s vision of Celine features a younger variety of faces. “All the youths of the world are different and yet similar,” he continues. “No matter the time in history, they are pure energy, exaltation, and emotion, living the fast life.”
ILLNESS HELPED GIVE HIS LIFE PERSPECTIVE
In the interview, Slimane revealed that he has severe chronic tinnitus and was diagnosed over a year ago. “It first got out of control, and I went through a very dark period with anxiety phases that were unbearable,” he shares. After finding support from his friends and family, the illness gave him a sense of perspective. “I realised what was the most precious thing to me, what made it meaningful to live,” he explains. “It was the joy I feel when I create, and how it’s more of a necessity for me to create and to connect fashion with photography. I don’t see life the same way anymore.”
“I realised what was the most precious thing to me, what made it meaningful to live. It was the joy I feel when I create. I don’t see life the same way anymore” – Hedi Slimane
THE POWER OF SOCIAL MEDIA
While Slimane doesn’t have a private or personal Instagram account – his photography is shared on an account not linked to him – the designer still notes the importance of the platform in his strategy for Celine. I really like Instagram when it comes to commitments and to artistic projects,” he says. “This is a platform that undoubtedly promotes the discovery of new talents, and the sharing of innovative ideas.”
He goes on to critique the platform too. “Instagram has created a few conventions in the codified representation of happiness, with the ideal life aspect of it, with the ‘picture perfect’ way of life, where everyone flies in private jets and wakes up perfectly made up,” he says. “I realise how difficult it must be to sometimes grow up in a world full of ‘likes’ when we’re not the most popular girl or boy in school. When will social networks evolve towards a new realism with no alteration or touch up?”
HIS ULTIMATE LUXURY
You’re probably thinking ‘what could Hedi Slimane possibly ever want or need?’ Especially when you remember his $11.5m winnings from a lawsuit against former employer Kering. “Time,” he says is the simple answer. “Time makes things. At a time when appropriation has become the standard, pursuing my way through a silhouette or a recognisable picture at first sight is at the heart of my life. Defending on one hand an identity, and on the other hand a continuum.”
HIS LIFE MANTRA
Ending the interview, Slimane shared his life motto: “Holding up. No matter the goal, the postures, the opinions, the noise, the agendas, the key to all this is magic and delight.”
Hedi Slimane’s debut Celine show takes place on September 28 at 8:30pm.