Image: Hedi Slimane. Image source.
Hedi Slimane – the man that revolutionised the house of Saint Laurent and doubled its sales revenue in the space of three years – has just been announced as Phoebe Philo’s predecessor at the house of Céline. It was an announcement that took much of the industry by surprise over the weekend, especially considering Philo’s success in redefining the Céline aesthetic as one that’s distinctly feminine, but also incredibly boundary-pushing. The question now becomes, can Slimane (aka the master of reinvention) carry on in Philo’s legacy, or will he do something wildly different, as was the case with Saint Laurent?
Certainly one thing will be different when Slimane takes the reins in February and that’s the introduction of both menswear and couture. Business of Fashion reportsthat his official title will be artistic, creative and image director and that his first collection for the brand will be during Paris Fashion Week in September. Before then, though, we can expect to see the introduction of new Céline product categories, including fragrances.
Although the Frenchman has logged time at the likes of Dior Homme and Saint Laurent, Phoebe Philo will surely prove a tough act to follow. During her 10-year tenure at Céline, the London-based designer transformed the once-middling label into one of the world’s leading fashion authorities. She also help to lift annual sales from €200 million to more than €700 million, according to analysts.
But her Céline vision was also a largely traditional one, with the label only recently launching an Instagram account. And the digital side of things is certainly Hedi Slimane’s forte, so it will be interesting to see how he revolutionises Céline’s online presence. It must be said, however, that for a label which has seen so much success under the 10-year direction of a female designer, it feels somewhat disappointing to see yet another top job in fashion go to the boys club. So here’s hoping that Phoebe Philo’s next move will make up for it elsewhere in the high fashion hierarchy.