Right, Canadian model Daria Werbowy (IMG) as the face of Céline’s Fall/Winter 2013 campaign, photographed by Juergen Teller, with designer Phoebe Philo as Creative Director; above, a new ad campaign by Hedi Slimane
The New Celine: A Look at Hedi Slimane’s Controversial Rebrand of the French Fashion House
HEDI SLIMANE is no stranger to controversy. After all, in 2012, while creative director at Yves Saint Laurent, he promptly dropped the “Yves” from YSL. Now at Céline, the French Tunisian designer (who made his debut at Dior Homme before YSL) has again shocked the fashion world by not only tampering with the beloved French fashion house’s name and logo, but also with his debut collection for the luxury brand. His first order of business when arriving at Céline was to remove the l’accent aigu from the house’s name, “to enable a simplified and more balanced proportion” was the explanation given on the brand’s Instagram page. The spacing between the letters of the logo were also balanced out and the letters brought closer together.
Many have seen this change as the erasing the brand’s French heritage. From a recent article in The Guardian, “French fashion writer Alice Pfeiffer thinks it is more a comment on globalisation. Losing the accent makes it easier to use in a text message. And makes it less French. ‘Reinstating it is a sign of proud Frenchness and refusal of the Americanisation of French culture – and making it purposely unpronounceable, confusing or unwritable for [your] keyboards?’ Losing the accent said less about rebranding Celine and more about rebranding ‘the idea of Frenchness’ altogether.”
Accents aside, the men’s and womenwear’s collection itself, titled Paris La Nuit, came as a bit of a shock when it debuted in Paris on September 28. No one expected Slimane, who was hired to double or triple the revenues, to adhere to the house codes or pick up where Phoebe Philo left off, but no one expected the new creative director to completely alienate the professional women who had loved the brand so. What Celine (without the accent, of course) appeared to be about now was the same millennial who got behind Slimane’s Saint Laurent. The words “rock chic” and “cool kids” were thrown about by the new creative director.
Below, we’ve compiled a visual comparison of the oldCéline versus the new Celine, that is, Phoebe Philo‘s versus Hedi Slimane’s, along with quotes from various publications and news outlets that reveal the general consensus surrounding the rebranding of the French fashion house.
Special thanks to Daniela Chelariu for all the research help. Featured image via @alyssa.lenore
Phoebe Philo by David Sims Vogue Paris March 2010
“For ten years, Celine was a brand that embodied the female gaze in fashion. Under the helm of British fashion designer Phoebe Philo, it became synonymous with minimalism, clean lines and creating clothes that were designed for a woman who didn’t want to dress for anyone but herself.”
Céline, Pre-Fall 2015.
Ally Ertel by Zoe Ghertner.
Styling: Marie Chaix.
Daria Werbowy for Celine Spring Summer 2013 Campaign by Juergen Teller
CÉLINE SPRING 2018 RTW
Joan Didion by Juergen Teller for a Céline Spring 2015 Ad Campaign
CÉLINE SPRING 2018 RTW
“…synonymous with an ideal that’s at once sensual, austere, controlled, and achingly, achingly cool.” —Vogue
Above, Ad Campaigns and runway details for Phoebe Philo’s Céline (2008-2018), which Vogue described as “…synonymous with an ideal that’s at once sensual, austere, controlled, and achingly, achingly cool”, and below, 2018 Ad Campaigns for the new Celine under Hedi Slimane, sans accent.
Below, a comparison of Philo’s Céline, who in her 10 years at the house put Joan Didion and other intelligent women in ad campaigns, and Slimane’s Celine, who has been accused of ripping apart his predecessor’s female design philosophy.
From The Guardian, in which an article entitled, Hedi Slimane rips up Celine’s female design philosophy at Paris show states:
“Hedi Slimane launched a blitzkrieg on Celine, which for a decade under Phoebe Philo embodied the female gaze in fashion. In the shadow of Les Invalides, the site of Napoleon’s tomb, Slimane jettisoned elegant trousers, silk blouses, understated knitwear and unstructured trenchcoats for dolly-sized sequin micro shifts and tiny leather skirts.
“Hedi Slimane’s Celine was 100 per cent Hedi and it would have been naive to expect any different. He first developed his signature undernourished silhouette at Dior Homme in the early 2000s and then worked it at Saint Laurent. What he showed at Celine — whip-thin tailoring (designed for men and women but mostly worn by skinny boys); crotch-skimming cocktail dresses; sparkly sheer blouses, bold-shouldered blazers, cropped tuxedos, leather bombers — was precisely what he’s always done.” (Financial Times)
In a rare interview with Le Figaro, Slimane says, “We don’t enter a fashion house to imitate our predecessor, much less to take over the essence of their work, their codes and elements of language.”
“The goal is not to go the opposite way of their work either. It would be a misinterpretation. Respect means preserving the integrity of each individual, recognising the things that belong to another person with honesty and discernment.”
“It also means starting a new chapter. We arrive then with our own stories, our own culture, a personal semantic that is different from the ones of houses in which we create. We have to be ourselves, without any stance, against all odds.”