Why Women Are So Furious About Hedi Slimane’s Debut Celine Show

It's being dubbed ignorant, belligerent and narcissistic

Last week, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford stood in front of a packed courthouse and recalled the most horrific moment of her life: the night she alleges she was sexually assaulted by Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s top pick for US Supreme Court Judge.

As Dr Ford stood in front of a Senate Judiciary Committee in Washington DC, filled with allies of her alleged attacker, women all around the world watched with aching hearts. After everything that has come from the Me Too and Time’s Up movements and in the wake of Harvey Weinstein’s arrest, still, a powerful man who has been accused of multiple accounts of sexual misconduct – Trump – was standing up for another powerful man – Kavanaugh, who was being accused of trying to rape a woman at a party. 

dr christine blasey ford

Just one day later, former YSL creative director Hedi Slimane debuted the most anticipated show of the spring/summer 2019 fashion month season: his first collection at the helm of Celine (the accent over the ‘E’ abolished a few weeks prior), after the departure of creative director Phoebe Philo.

On the eve of Philo’s 2009 debut for the brand, some 10 years earlier, she vowed to take fashion “back to reality.” Her vision was to create timeless, beautiful garments that stood up when worn in everyday life – school runs, work meetings and rushed mid-week drycleaning dropoffs very much included. 

Philo was one of the only female creative directors sitting at the helm of a top French fashion house and she made it known: Celine was a brand made for women by women. Philo became famous for creating collections which empowered its wearers and made them feel strong and sophisticated, inspiring the likes of The Row, Gabriela Hearst and Victoria Beckham along the way.

When Philo’s departure was confirmed last December, the fashion community collectively mourned. In less than a month @OldCeline, an Instagram account dedicated to documenting Philo’s reign, gained over 50,000 followers, many of whom are editors, influencers and celebrities. Philo’s fans who spent thousands stocking up on their favourite pieces from past collections were renamed the ‘Philophiles’, and everyone was poised waiting for Slimane’s next move. 

Within minutes of the front row at Les Invalides being filled, Slimane made it clear that his vision for Celine is the polar opposite of Philo’s. The dark runway was made up of designs almost identical to his previous collections for Saint Laurent: sequin mini dresses, lashings of leather, and short, tight outfits which looked to be made almost exclusively for the young models who wore it down the runway. 


The 96-piece runway collection was almost entirely black and white – and speaking of white, it took 34 exits before a black model took to the runway. “By my count 87 of the 96 models were white,” British GQ editor Lou Stoppard wrote on Twitter after the show, hers one of thousands of reviews, almost all of them negative. 

Though what happened in a Washington DC courthouse and what took place at Paris Fashion Week might seem worlds apart, both events couldn’t be more timely. Slimane’s Celine was telling women that short, tight, latex dresses were what they should – and wanted to – wear, one day after a woman’s recollection of sexual assault was being discredited by none other than the President of the United States.

With Saint Laurent, we were used to dresses suited for late night parties and which couldn’t be worn before 9pm. But Celine was the pair of pants you’d wear to a job interview, the blazer you’d throw over anything to instantly feel powerful, the skirt you could wear both to Friday night drinks and to pick the children up from school.

As women everywhere mourn the loss of Philo’s Celine and rush to buy ‘Old Celine’ before it’s too late, many are wondering whether there’s a place for Slimane’s vision in the year 2018.

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