The Day After the Night Before: Celine

One presumes there’s a reason why Anthony Vaccarello at Saint Laurent hasn’t strayed too far from the codes and legacy of Hedi Slimane’s tenure at the French fashion house. Because it was a success.

Celine Spring/Summer 2019 show in Paris. Photo by Alessandro Garofalo for NOWFASHION. 

Despite a riot of negativity from the press when he dropped the “Yves” from the Saint Laurent and yet more again (for some reason) when he showed coherent collections that continued to define his cult style and more importantly sell sell sell, Hedi’s Saint Laurent was awesome. And those that began hating it soon changed their minds to love it, most notably Cathy Horyn wrote a rebuke of her own first impressions of Saint Laurent. She wrote in T Magazine in 2014: “He has also defeated his critics who no doubt sensed the futility of continuing to point out that he doesn’t seem to be trying very hard to be inventive.” And: “Instead, he makes straightforward commercial fashion that a woman can instantly relate to.”


Spoiler alert, this same narrative is going to play out at Celine.


Where Hedi goes, customers follow. He gets style and he gets clothes, real clothes that people want to wear – there is an irony, though, that among many of the critical reviews of his Celine debut, this is supposedly the reverse.


In the 24 hours and counting since he unveiled the most anticipated collection of fashion month (in much the same way as his was back in 2013 for Saint Laurent), the fashion world – and a lot of the rest of the world, actually – have gone into overdrive. They’re having internet slanging matches about it. Critics have lampooned it and its pitchfork-wielding cliques have formed. It’s become about what Celine meant to them personally instead of about the clothes on the catwalk.

Celine Spring/Summer 2019 show in Paris. Photos by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION. 

Disclaimer, I’m a Hedi fan. But also, take a look at the clothes. Take a real look. At the way the buttons on the trench coats among the menswear have been moved closer to one another to create a slimmer silhouette, so it’s long and lean no matter who’s wearing it. The pleats in the trousers create a flattering shape and line, it’s neat. The small bolero jackets among the womenswear, too, create a long line on the body below, shortening the torso and giving the illusion of longer legs, whether or not you are the owner of them.


And while at a glance, the Eighties is the era that seems to underpin this collection, there’s a Thirties thing at play, too – a non-Instagram elegance, an overarching theme as it happens with Guillaume Henry, formerly of Carven and Nina Ricci, recently installed at the newly revived but storied house Jean Patou.

Because there’s a reason that vintage is back. Who wants to look to the future when the future is Brexit; when the horizon is grey with not knowing. Dressing up, living life, one tends to turn to these things and more’s the point needs them in times of despair. What else do we have? Well, thankfully, we have Hedi at Celine.