Slimane demolished that notion Friday in an outstanding show staged at the back of Les Invalides, a rich contemporary take on snappy French chic. The reinvention of the stylish DNA of that iconic nearby neighborhood – St Germain.
LVMH, the giant luxury corporation that owns Celine, have certainly given Hedi all the means to reimagine the brand in his own image. The house built a massive black box auditorium at the back of Napoléon’s Tomb for this show. Then, kicked off the action with an electric arm worthy of Cecil B. DeMille on which was perched a small modernist lobby, which advanced 40 meters out onto the catwalk.
Out of the lobby marched a perfectly judged opening look; a boyfriend check jacket; romantic blouses finished with golden ruffled stocks; and micro plaid pleated culotte-skirts that brushed the top of knee-high boots. The multi-pleat skirt or the long culotte, or a combination of both, were the heart of this collection, managing to be simultaneously formal yet sexy. Hedi paired them with oversized shearling flight jackets, hyper cool gold sequined cardigans, soft waxy leather baseball jackets or techy biker jacket with off-center zips.
He dissected many looks with thin leather belts with lots of golden buckles, giving a distinctive silhouette to the midriff. For evenings clubbing: doubloon knee-high boots with hidden wedge heels, jeans tucked in like a disco dragoon, and bodies wrapped up in shearling redingotes; corduroy blazers or humongous shearling stoles worthy of a Grammy Award winner.
Plus, between the enveloping double-face cashmere great coats, crisp chalk stripe pant suits and Victorian blouses, there was plenty to entice the old fans of Celine; the ancien régime ladies who cried treachery after Hedi’s harder-core rocker debut in September.
“To be honest I already had the idea for this collection when I started working back last February. It’s about all the beautiful ladies of St Germain,” winked the designer, dressed impeccably in his new signature six-button, double-breasted chalk stripe suit. A version of which was worn by several models in this women’s only show.
While retailers report huge enthusiasm for Slimane’s Celine menswear and his tailored looks for women, there have been reports that the accessories business has been slower. And a new It Bag did not immediately jump out in this collection.
But there was a telling moment, exiting into a maelstrom of limousines in the chilly air, when one couldn’t help but notice the acre-wide smiles of dozens of retailers. Several of them were actually giggling with glee, others quietly chuckling, with that shiny look that buyers have after they have seen a hyper commercial collection.
“Génial,” said LVMH capo Bernard Arnault, slowly, like Géeeniiiaaalll. Looks like Bernard is going to get his money’s worth from Hedi.
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