Hedi Slimane reacts to criticism of his first runway for Celine
Paris Fashion Week's most highly anticipated runway, Hedi Slimane's debut show for Celine certainly gave the fashion press a lot to talk about. Criticism was particularly rife abroad, with the designer being called the "Donald Trump of fashion" by the Hollywood Reporter, for example, while the New York Times accused him of having become outdated since he left Saint Laurent and disappeared from the fashion scene: "Women [...] have moved on. But he has not." In response to his critics, Hedi Slimane made a written statement which was read out by journalist and director Loïc Prigent on French TV channel TMC's 5 minutes de la mode in a special edition dedicated to the designer's first runway for Celine on 3rd October.
Concerning the, at times violent, criticism that he has received, Celine's creative director wrote, "It's always very odd and I always feel like people are speaking about someone else. Besides, the spirit of the runway was light and joyful, but lightness and insouciance are being called into question in the fashion industry these days. I already went through this at Saint Laurent. There's politics, conflicts of interest and cliques, so it's sort of predictable, but there are also these stupefying extremes of conservatism and puritanism. Violence is a reflection of our time. It's the demagogic spirit of social networks, which are nonetheless a wonderful tool for creating communities. There are no limits anymore, hate gets passed on and ends up taking over."
"This runway was under particular scrutiny. In the United States and England, people were scandalised by my short evening dresses. So it seems that women are no longer free to wear a mini-dress if they want to. The comparisons to Trump are opportunistic, very bold and rather comical, just because the young women at my runway are liberated and carefree. They're free to dress as they like. For some people in America, I've also got the bad taste to be a man taking over from a woman. There could even be a quite surprising latent homophobic subtext in there somewhere. Is it a problem for a man to be designing collections for women? At the end of the day, all of this is unexpected publicity for the collection. We couldn't have hoped better. Above all, it consolidates a very French kind of nonconformity and freedom at Celine," he continued.
Made up of 96 men's and womenswear silhouettes, Hedi Slimane's debut show for the LVMH-owned fashion house reflected the fetish-like stylings of the designer, a fan of bad boys and cool kids involved in the skate and rock scenes, an aesthetic which he already developed extensively at Saint Laurent from 2012 to 2016. It was a striking departure from the quirky and elegant intellectualism which made Phoebe Philo's 10-year tenure at Celine so successful. Critics also pointed out the lack of diversity among the models on Slimane's catwalk, with some counting 87 white models (91% of the full casting) – a particularly misjudged move as inclusion has been one of the most hotly discussed topics in the industry over the past few months.
However, for Bernard Arnault, with whom Loïc Prigent managed to talk following the runway show, it was a success. The LVMH CEO "adored" the show, and loved "everything" in the collection.
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