CELINE Men’s Fall/Winter 2019

by Long Nguyen

The anticipation was over on a cold Sunday night in the middle of the Place de la Concorde where Hedi Slimane showed his first standalone men’s show for CELINE with a collection that was decidedly very Slimane. While the clothes retained that air of familiarity, the feel was of a more mature attitude. It was a very confident show based on Slimane’s own personal diary or ‘polaroids’ of British youth – not so much the punk or the rebellious ones of past decades that no longer existed but the more college-bound or postgraduates who have just entered the workforce and are beginning to craft their own lives. This evolution was already apparent in the coed show, more importantly, the clothes shown were so full of friendly retail merchandises that would move swiftly for a very different segment of the male consumer. The hard-partying boys of late night underground clubs surrendered to the cosmopolitan guys in a changing phase of life.

The neon lights turned red than flashing white as a giant circular sculpture hung at the end of the runway; moving slowly back to the other end as the first model exited wearing a loose fit double-breasted suit with pleated baggy pants cut to above the ankle to signal the era of the black fitted suit had indeed passed. This was followed by a black and white Prince of Wales single-breasted jacket, also cut generously loose paired with a white shirt, black tie, straight leg pants and a cashmere camel coat that had none of the air of the past. In the air was a mood of Bryan Ferry rather than someone like Sid Vicious. The new line up was fronted by members of the bands Drug Store Romeos, Lady Bird and Ugly. Models continued with a gray suit and ties under a six button cashmere coat; black suit with a striped tie and a three button wool black and white tweed coat cut precisely to hit just at the model’s knees. The gamut of menswear staples were all present from leather bikers and checker sweaters, metal trims motor cross jackets and black jeans. A black leather trench, wool duffle and sheepskin coats, wool cardigans, and couture-level evening embroidered jackets – all displayed to the original music ‘Philosopher’s Calling’ composed, performed, and remixed by Crack Cloud.

Those who had wanted a sweeping change would surely be disappointed. For those who think of London youth as a torch carrier for streetwear styles would also not found their flavors here. Fashion changed so slowly and like a Lego sculpture set, one piece built upon another like a construction of a high rise tower – you can’t expect a designer to create a new world view without any emotional attachment. Regardless, there is sincerity and consistency in what Slimane does – you can’t fault any designer for sticking to their point of view - and within the course of six months, he has created a new and already recognizable identity for CELINE that even the general public can’t escape – witness the ubiquity of the outdoor communication campaign on bus stops and billboards in major cities. And when the guests exited into Place de la Concorde darkened by the total eclipse of the moon, echoes of the sharp saxophone performance by the legendary James Chance still rang in our ears.

Photos courtesy of CELINE