The issue with Heidi Slimanne’s CELINE.

By Jimena Zazueta

Heidi Slimanne

The Parisian fashion house CELINE, formerly known as CÉLINE has been a recurring topic among fashion industry experts ever since the brand’s last show at Paris Fashion Week. CELINE for those unfamiliar with said brand, was the epitome of luxury fashion made for the modern working woman, up until former and highly influential creative director Phoebe Philo quit. LVMH, the major business group who owns CELINE among other fashion houses, decided the seemingly “best fit” for the effortlessly chic brand was controversial designer Heidi Slimanne, famous for putting Saint Laurent among one of the top luxury labels.

Old & New

While Slimanne did create a seemingly popular aesthetic for Saint Laurent, many people in fashion did not know what to expect of his future at CELINE, which is still uncertain due to his lack of attention to the CÉLINE customer in his debut collection. Slimanne’s work is well known for skinny suits, sparkly cocktail dresses and a heavy use of black, catered to the young and “rebellious” party goers of Paris; while Philo designed impeccable neutral toned suiting and dresses for the professional, chic and practical woman. With this polar opposites context in mind it’s evident how Slimanne’s first collection was received among fashion people.

CELINE S/S 19 by Heidi Slimanne

The clothes weren’t entirely bad, they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time, and obviously through the wrong brand since they looked like past season Saint Laurent. Since the show many have shamed Slimanne for completely ignoring the CELINE look, removing the iconic accent from the brand’s logo, using mostly Caucasian models, and appealing to old misogynistic standards of how women should be dressing, were completely on the other side of what Philo’s empowering silhouettes stood for. Some even thought it was a way for LVMH to get back at Kering (who owns Saint Laurent) by showing they could replicate the brand, which undeniably they did.

With fashion becoming an outlet for designers to make a stand in front of the world’s current events, leaving CÉLINE’s empowered female customer with new CELINE’s tiny sequined party dresses seems completely out of line, causing outrage among consumers and the overwhelming revival of “old CÉLINE” pieces online. Only time will tell if Slimanne’s new vision actually sells, but eliminating all trace of a fashion house’s unique point of view for something that feels identical to another brand’s completely contrasting aesthetic isn´t “disruptive”, it’s catastrophic.

Phoebe Philo’s CÉLINE (now known as “old céline”)

Creative director’s jump from brand to brand changing and innovating traditional silhouettes from recognized luxury houses, but still remaining faithful to the brand’s original philosophy; and CELINE’s rebranding isn´t that. Changing casual suiting for provocative party wear isn´t as misogynistic as some claim, but it still fails to give women the strong and professional look the luxury customer looked for in CÉLINE. With the fashion customer becoming more and more aware of politics and sustainability related topics, luxury brands need to step up their game in order to stir away from controversy; while at the same time challenging their design essence in a specifically branded way in order to keep up in a sea of fashion houses.

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