Hedi Slimane Claps Back at Critics
Rest in peace Céline.
By Lily Tubman
If the backlash from removing the accent over the first “e” in the Celine logo wasn’t bad enough, the criticism following Hedi Slimane’s debut show for the French fashion house sure was.
With the Business of Fashion, calling his collection a “gust of toxic masculinity” and the Hollywood Reporter referring to him as the “Donald Trump of fashion,” Slimane had no trouble responding back. Coming from the designer who uninvited critics from shows in the past, Slimane accused those judging his work as nonsensical.
“The comparisons to Trump are opportunistic, rather bold and fairly comical, just because the young women in my show are liberated and carefree,” Slimane says in an email to the French television show, 5 Minutes de Mode by Loïc Prigent.
The fashion community’s response Slimane’s Celine SS19 show was polarizing, to say the least. Some say LVMH, Celine’s parent conglomerate, hired Hedi as creative director to do what Hedi does best — staying true to his vision, no matter if it’s Dior Homme, Saint Laurent, or now Celine. Similar to removing the accent, Slimane changed Yves Saint Laurent to simply Saint Laurent causing a similar uproar. But despite only being at the head of YSL for one year, he easily doubled the revenue with his cult following, quieting skeptics.
Most say he stripped the brand of its powerful image. Phoebe Philo created clothing for a clientele who didn’t want to think about what to wear. The focus was on customers’ abilities, their work, their families, yet, they were still fashionable and effortless.
Céline was a brand for women by a woman. Philo made Céline. The industry loved her.
With Slimane arrive at the brand, Philo’s legacy disappeared, as all past images of the old Céline were swiped off Instagram. On the runway, the brand was removed the feminist, sophisticated, and empowering message. Skinny, mostly light-skinned, majority white models were pushed into short, sequin dresses and masculine tailoring by a man. But, Slimane did not understand these critiques.
“For some in America, I also have the poor taste of being a man who is succeeding a woman. You could read into that a subtext of latent homophobia that is quite surprising,” Slimane says. “Is a man drawing women’s collections an issue?”
With the runway show debuting the same day as the Kavanaugh hearings, this contributed to stronger disapproval from Americans. In a time where people’s rights are in question, people feel a need, not a want, to express their opinions on everything, from fashion to politics because they often intertwine.
“Violence is a reflection of our time — the rabble-rousing spirit of social networks, despite the fact that they are a formidable community tool. There are no longer any limits, hatred is amplified and takes over.” Slimane says. “It’s always very jarring and I always feel like people are talking about someone else”