If you’ve been following Hedi Slimane’s work, you’d know that the French designer is obsessed with the youth culture.
Since his debut at the French luxury house, Slimane has largely stuck in his own creative universe which orbits around short party dresses, skinny tweed jackets and lots of ultra-thin androgynous teenage models—the kind of post-modern bourgeois styles he showed during his time at Saint Laurent and Dior Homme.
After all, this is his signature; the designer is not one to sway to trends, nor does he respond to the demand of critics. It is this astuteness that has helped to sell Slimane’s singular vision.
So, it is rather surprising to see his new women’s collection which opened with a drone shot of the Mediterranean, then panning over Monaco’s harbour and finally zooming into the Stade Louis II stadium to reveal a varsity-inspired line-up for S/S ’21.
As the soundtrack—an extended version of Princess Nokia’s I Like Him—suggests, the collection is very much made with the Gen Z in mind. That notion is then demonstrated by Kaia Gerber, the Gen Z’s favourite model, who strutted down the running tracks in a Celine-emblazoned cap, sports bra under a leather blazer, with cuffed denim shorts.
The styling of the collection was a lot younger than Slimane’s previous outings. Blazers and boucle jackers are now worn with cropped tops, hoodies, jeans and branded track shorts. There are also some long pleated ’70s dresses—some tiered, some sparkling— but paired with sneakers, ballerina flats or hiking boots instead.
On the accessories part, the classic Ava and the Triomphe make a reappearance while there are plenty of Celine-logo Dad caps, gold jewellery and oval sunglasses on offer. That said, pulling the pieces apart, there are still a lot of looks that can be worn by women of any age.
More than anything, the new collection signalled a small but crucial shift. It was more of an evolution, a loosening-up, even. Of course, Slimane is not ready to throw away the codes he has established over the past seasons. They are still there, but this time, seen through a younger lens.
One of Slimane’s biggest strengths is his understanding of the zeitgeist. It was rather evident when Celine recently hired a Tiktok star as the face of its menswear campaign and then appointed Blackpink’s Lisa as its ambassador. These efforts are ways for the House to make contact and closely connect with the Tiktok generation.
In a rare interview with Le Figaro, Slimane said, “Celine is a vision of Paris, a way of being worn... I don’t want to lock it up in something. There’s no constraint, no model that is linked to a very important legacy. Starting from here, we can coin a vocabulary. What’s important is always now.” Needless to say, that sentiment is particularly eminent in this new collection.
And according to the show notes this season, Celine’s clientele is “always the Parisan, but with a new energy.” If this new collection is an indication of what Slimane has up his sleeves, it will be interesting to see how the designer will further push the envelope and translate a vernacular French style to a new, younger audience.