French designer Hedi Slimane‘s takeover of Celine, now coming up on three years, can be best described as fraught. Taking over the role of much-loved designer Phoebe Philo was always going to be the opposite of easy, but Simons came in hot with his debut spring 2019 season by aggressively swapping in his own signature thinspo codes for Philo’s languorous chic.
Describing the collection as a continuation of his celebrated days as head creative for Saint Laurent, commenting on Slimane’s debut effort, WWD noted, “There is virtually no connective tissue between Slimane’s aesthetic and that of his predecessor, Phoebe Philo.”
In following seasons Slimane showed a greater willingness to lean into Philo’s more relaxed approach but for many fashion lovers his version of the label is beyond fixing, an utter disaster foreshadowed by his simple decision to remove the accent from the labels name.
Yes, he has retained an ardent fan base, though just like there are designers who are widely celebrated and beloved with only a smatter of dismissive whispers, there are also designers who serve to exercise the (in some cases considerable) stored anger of fashion fans. And while some designers win a lifetime of legend status for others, favor, as is the case with Slimane, rises and falls.
As for Celine’s spring 2021 collection, presented in the Stade Louis II stadium in Monaco on October 8, 2020 (making use of Princess Nokia‘s “I Like Him” for the visual’s soundtrack!), the collection mainly has been praised by legacy fashion publications (though let’s be real, Celine is owned by LVMH meaning how long is any editor going to dump on that level of ad budget?) as celebrating the real life wardrobes of Gen Z. From Bazaar: “Styling of the looks echoed how an A-lister or supermodel might dress when out and about running errands while being knowingly photographed by paparazzi, but also felt very appropriate for how we are all wanting to dress in 2020.”
However, except for fans (and they are legion!) celebrating the collection as perfect for recently-announced Celine ambassador Lisa of BLACKPINK, the looks are receiving a thorough dragging on Twitter where among the kinder reviews one poster described it as “soccer mom realness.”
In particular, Slimane has been taken to task for serving up utterly blah flats and an array of denim silhouettes that really look like Mom jeans.
But outside of the weirdly ho-hum denim and flats, the collection is full of cute pieces like over-sized plaid suit jackets, nylon jackets emblazoned with the Celine logo, logo bras, bucket hats, baseball caps, and more. Plus, you know all the leather pieces are pure butter. As endless Lisa fans have pointed out, it looks like the entire collection was built for her.
If there’s anything that’s a bummer, it’s that the designs feel restrained. Not only is Philo’s quietly unique approach gone, but Slimane’s own clear point of view, love it or hate it, has also been dashed and replaced with a derivative version that feels somewhat robotic. “Oh, track jackets and bucket caps are cool? Here’s some jackets and bucket caps.”
It’s all fine, but one can’t help but hope Slimane little-by-little reasserts his viewpoint onto designs as time goes on. Because let’s face it, Philo has left the building and she isn’t coming back.