The Iconic Edition
Advice
|3 Oct|6 mins

Why We’re Totally Confused — But Not Really Surprised — By What Happened At Paris Fashion Week

#UsToo.
Elle Glass
3 Oct
Share:

Something super weird, but not entirely unexpected, happened at Paris Fashion Week.

It wasn’t ‘entirely unexpected’ because of the way the world seems to work these days. In that universe, an overly tanned ex reality TV star with a documented complete disregard for women is the President of the United States. In the same world, he happily nominates someone with a raft of sexual abuse charges levelled at him to sit in power on the Supreme Court. And, in that same world, news of Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony against that man was interrupted as Hedi Slimane walked his first collection at Celine. And it was nothing like the Celine we’d once known and would clearly never be again.

Friday’s show was an uncomfortable moment, sure, but it wasn’t a surprise. Or, it shouldn’t have been. Slimane, at the helm, had wiped not only the accent from the luxury label’s brand, but wiped its entire Instagram account.

Celine, for many, was a safe place and Slimane, with LVMH’s blessing, deleted it. Under former Director Phoebe Philo, it was a brand that understood women and made them feel like a better version of themselves. Said the New York Times of Philo’s decade-long reign, “Philo took a previously staid brand and remade it in her own image, infusing it with sensuality, modernity and more than just a hint of eccentricity … Hers was called a quiet revolution.” Philo heroed our own heroines, putting Joan Didion — the woman who led her very own revolution between the sheets of Slouching Towards Bethlehem — front and centre. Celine, under Philo, was smart and slightly irreverent.

Philo understood what women wanted to wear, how they wanted to feel. The Celine gaze — under Philo, by definition — was female. Sofia Coppola told the New York Times: “Phoebe filled this void for non-flashy people. I’ll miss the classics that were never boring — pieces that you can wear forever … I think she’s smart and cool and seems to make what she wants to wear and what interests her. It’s not based on some weird idea of what a woman should be.”

“There’s something a female designer does differently from a male designer,” added model Stella Tennant. “She’s making clothes for herself, I imagine …  They feel like friends; I feel correct in them.”

In January this year, Philo’s reign came to a self-appointed end as Slimane was announced not only as her successor but as the brand’s (first ever) artistic, creative and image director. On his to-do list is menswear, couture and fragrance. He walked his first show, the week just gone, and the reaction is still yet to quiet. There were few friends found in each look. The Guardian ran the headline: ‘Hedi Slimane rips up Celine's female design philosophy at Paris show’.

And they were far from alone in that sentiment.

“I’ve been in deep, deep grief since he wiped the Insta weeks ago,” said one friend.

“I am devastated,” said another.

Philo’s call was subversive, subtle and cool. There was, though, nothing subtle about Slimane’s collection. The response to Celine’s show on the 28th was perhaps summed up best by Man Repeller’s Harling Ross:

“This is not Celine! This is Saint Laurent!

And it was true. There was no soft tailoring, no elegant silhouettes, no slightly-left-of centre style that we’d come to know from Celine. Instead, there was Slimane’s signature rock kid feels, sky-high hems, bold shapes and tight-tight everything.

But, of course. As Slimane told French masthead Le Figaro (later published in English on Business of Fashion), “...  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 … You arrive with a story, a culture, a personal language that is different from those of the house. You have to be yourself, against all odds.”

It was, indeed, his own language. Instagram authority @Diet_Prada (an account dedicated to ‘people knocking each other off lol’) perhaps spelled it out most plainly:

Advice
|3 Oct|6 mins

Why We’re Totally Confused — But Not Really Surprised — By What Happened At Paris Fashion Week

#UsToo.
Elle Glass
3 Oct
Share:

Something super weird, but not entirely unexpected, happened at Paris Fashion Week.

It wasn’t ‘entirely unexpected’ because of the way the world seems to work these days. In that universe, an overly tanned ex reality TV star with a documented complete disregard for women is the President of the United States. In the same world, he happily nominates someone with a raft of sexual abuse charges levelled at him to sit in power on the Supreme Court. And, in that same world, news of Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony against that man was interrupted as Hedi Slimane walked his first collection at Celine. And it was nothing like the Celine we’d once known and would clearly never be again.

Friday’s show was an uncomfortable moment, sure, but it wasn’t a surprise. Or, it shouldn’t have been. Slimane, at the helm, had wiped not only the accent from the luxury label’s brand, but wiped its entire Instagram account.

Celine, for many, was a safe place and Slimane, with LVMH’s blessing, deleted it. Under former Director Phoebe Philo, it was a brand that understood women and made them feel like a better version of themselves. Said the New York Times of Philo’s decade-long reign, “Philo took a previously staid brand and remade it in her own image, infusing it with sensuality, modernity and more than just a hint of eccentricity … Hers was called a quiet revolution.” Philo heroed our own heroines, putting Joan Didion — the woman who led her very own revolution between the sheets of Slouching Towards Bethlehem — front and centre. Celine, under Philo, was smart and slightly irreverent.

Philo understood what women wanted to wear, how they wanted to feel. The Celine gaze — under Philo, by definition — was female. Sofia Coppola told the New York Times: “Phoebe filled this void for non-flashy people. I’ll miss the classics that were never boring — pieces that you can wear forever … I think she’s smart and cool and seems to make what she wants to wear and what interests her. It’s not based on some weird idea of what a woman should be.”

“There’s something a female designer does differently from a male designer,” added model Stella Tennant. “She’s making clothes for herself, I imagine …  They feel like friends; I feel correct in them.”

In January this year, Philo’s reign came to a self-appointed end as Slimane was announced not only as her successor but as the brand’s (first ever) artistic, creative and image director. On his to-do list is menswear, couture and fragrance. He walked his first show, the week just gone, and the reaction is still yet to quiet. There were few friends found in each look. The Guardian ran the headline: ‘Hedi Slimane rips up Celine's female design philosophy at Paris show’.

And they were far from alone in that sentiment.

“I’ve been in deep, deep grief since he wiped the Insta weeks ago,” said one friend.

“I am devastated,” said another.

Philo’s call was subversive, subtle and cool. There was, though, nothing subtle about Slimane’s collection. The response to Celine’s show on the 28th was perhaps summed up best by Man Repeller’s Harling Ross:

“This is not Celine! This is Saint Laurent!

And it was true. There was no soft tailoring, no elegant silhouettes, no slightly-left-of centre style that we’d come to know from Celine. Instead, there was Slimane’s signature rock kid feels, sky-high hems, bold shapes and tight-tight everything.

But, of course. As Slimane told French masthead Le Figaro (later published in English on Business of Fashion), “...  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 … You arrive with a story, a culture, a personal language that is different from those of the house. You have to be yourself, against all odds.”

It was, indeed, his own language. Instagram authority @Diet_Prada (an account dedicated to ‘people knocking each other off lol’) perhaps spelled it out most plainly:

@Diet_Prada

@Diet_Prada

@Diet_Prada

But, it’s more than that. It was, for many, yet another highly-publicised complete departure from what should be reality. A creating of a topsy turvy, can’t-be-real word. It’s a world in which it took 30 exits before we saw a model who wasn’t white. One in which a seemingly oblivious President of the United States is laughed out of the UN (“Didn’t expect that reaction, but that’s OK”), one where — on the very same day — the Kavanaugh hearing saw a woman say, "I am here today not because I want to be. I am terrified” as a room full of men stood against her, a room in which so many refused to hear her, to see her.

As The Guardian put it, “it was an uncomfortable moment for Slimane to raze to the ground the female design philosophy of a house which, for a decade under Philo, was notable for not equating a woman’s power with her sexuality.”

In this daily #MeToo, women are constantly searching for a safety of sorts. To watch Kavanaugh’s supporters speak and to lose Philo’s Celine on the same day was a wakeup call. How did, after all, Trump become the leader of the free world?

This is not about Slimane, though. It’s dangerous to think if it was a he or a she who designed it. We want to be EQUAL, not apart, and we can’t do this if we play the she said, he said game. The question, then, is what kind of world have we created where the female gaze, the female voice is so far marginalised it’s barely audible? And, what difference will being heard make, anyway? When asked whether new information from the FBI investigation would cause a change of votes, one senator quipped (to CNN), “Put down the bong, man. Put down the bong.”

LVMH, surely, are simply banking on Slimane to grow the business, to bring his Midas touch to play at the French house. Since arriving, he’s cleared the instagram account, taken the accent from the ‘e’ of Celine all in the name of heritage (Slimane did the same to Saint Laurent (dropping the Yves) but somehow this feels different). To make history do you have to first erase someone else’s? (Philo did, after all, add the accent to that e.)

“In this unsettling era of #MeToo … Fashion is supposed to be the place where we’re still respected and revered and celebrated no matter the cost," wrote Man Repeller’s Leandra Medine on Hedi Slimane's Celine.

And later, on Man Repeller:

“Perhaps this is another one of those wakeup calls — this time to redefine what being a woman means. To take what we have learned from such quiet but fiercely intelligent women like Phoebe Philo and employ the values we’ve adopted as our own. To honour our boundaries. Care for, respect and put ourselves first. (After all, even from the very top, she is the one who decided to leave Céline to take time off.)”

Le Figaro asked him: “Do the reactions caused by the accent being removed from the Celine logo remind you of when “Yves” was dropped from Saint Laurent? Why is there this almost obsessive desire to graphically mark your territory?”

“It’s in no way about marking my territory,” Slimane replied, speaking about returning to the church, to the tradition of the label. And, later in the interview: “You don't shake things up by avoiding making waves. When there is no debate, it means there is no opinion — the definition of blind conformity.”

Wrote @Diet_Prada:

“While he has a way of unearthing our hidden desires from time to time (all the financial reports from his tenure at Saint Laurent will attest to that), the white youth obsession is something we definitely won't be buying into lol...

“... LVMH is banking on the $limane dollars, but apparently not the creativity. We were hopeful and prepared to be surprised, but seeing the new season thumbnail on the Vogue Runway app stacked ahead of all of Phoebe's glorious collections for Celine reminds us to always remain cynical.”

Where, then, are women to find that safe space now? Where they can be heard, be seen, be valued? Where we can feel comfortable, where we can contribute. In a normal universe, though, such a space shouldn’t be needed. Which begs the question: have we really come so far after all?

As Medine wrote:

“I hope Phoebe Philo goes to Chanel.”

Elle Glass
Writer
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