Céline was a fashion house run by women for women. Celine — with the accent above the “e” conspicuously deleted — is a fashion house run by Hedi Slimane for Hedi Slimane.
On Sept. 2, every post on the official Céline Instagram was deleted and replaced with a new branding campaign by Slimane that introduced a logo that purged the ubiquitous accented “é.” A series of three posts that debuted the new, accent-less Celine. In the caption, an explanation was given.
“THE ACCENT ON THE ‘E’ HAS BEEN REMOVED TO ENABLE A SIMPLIFIED AND MORE BALANCED PROPORTION, EVOKING THE CELINE COLLECTIONS OF THE 1960’S WHERE THE ACCENT WASN’T USED OFTEN,” the photo caption read. “#CELINEBYHEDISLIMANE.”
These posts were Slimane’s debut as the new creative director of Celine, where he succeeded the beloved, previous creative director Phoebe Philo, who held the position for 10 years. This rebranding, along with Slimane’s reputation based on his work at Dior and as creative director of Saint Laurent — also a name change he is responsible for — had the fashion world waiting skeptically for the Celine SS19 show on Sept. 28.
And it was bad. The show was full of designs directly derivative of his work at Saint Laurent. He showed that the one aesthetic he can execute is short skirts and dark colors that never quite have the edge of punk (think McQueen) and lack the polish of being truly mod (think Burberry). Everything that could have possibly been wrong with the design was wrong. The colors were too dark. The textures were trying too hard to be interesting, and the music wasn’t trying hard enough. Silhouettes — boring. Makeup — lacking expression. Audience — stacked with invited celebrities. And, only nine models of color walked in the entire show.
But making boring, overtly-sexualized clothes isn’t necessarily a crime.
“Why am I so mad?” I ask myself when I see the YSL 2.0 dresses and the accent-less logo.
The problem is this so-called “BALANCE” Slimane is after, which he mentioned in the rebranding Instagram posts.
Under Philo, Céline was a home for quirky, artistic fashion that women could feel comfortable in — wearable sculpture that was actually made for everyday wear. Céline women had to worry about keeping their SS12 sunglasses, modeled by Joan Didion (pictured), scratch free. They did not have to worry about itchy sequins scratching their skin.
The unapologetic imbalance of Philo’s Céline in favor of empowered women, comfort and art counterbalanced the rest of the fashion industry that objectifies women and makes uncomfortable clothes without artistic integrity. Now that Slimane’s Celine follows suit, the industry is lacking balance.