Like a mythological king, Hedi Slimane descended from the heavens creating masterful handbags at Saint Laurent. But will the fashion gods sing praise to his next chapter at Celine?
REIGNING AESTHETIC AND RISING SALES
Raised in Paris, a city known for its elegant couture, Hedi Slimane’s aesthetic is inspired by the surfer, edgy, rock n roll vibe of Los Angeles which is a backdrop contrary to his childhood home. Originally moving to LA in pursuit of photography after his tenure at Dior Homme, he soon worked his way into a coveted role at Saint Laurent; one that he desired since he first worked for the label in the late 90’s. His reign at Saint Laurent, is showcased the most in the handbag collections consisting of suede fringe, crocodile embossed leather, and tongue-in-cheek shapes and prints. Mr. Slimane’s work captivated Saint Laurent’s audience, causing the label’s total sales to increase 27% in 2014, equating to approximately $880 million USD.
SLIMANE’S SAINT LAURENT
Three bags that rose to fame under Mr. Slimane’s creative direction include the Classic Monogram Blogger Crossbody, the Classic Monogram, and it-bag Sac de Jour. The Blogger Crossbody is a street style star in its own right, as it’s often seen photographed on Instagram’s most-followed fashion blogger accounts. The classic monogram tassel crossbody meanwhile is the perfect balance of classic meets contemporary; this bag can be styled both edgy or refined. And finally, the Sac de Jour – as the ultimate it-girl must have, this bag is perfect for everyday use with four different sizes accommodating everything from a cell phone and keys, to an entire laptop.
While Mr. Slimane’s Saint Laurent ready-to-wear and couture collections are known for being provocative, his hand bags, even if vibrantly patterned, are stated as “clean lined and classic”. Saint Laurent’s rise into handbag fame can be a foreshadowing of success for the handbag collections to come at Celine because they share a common theme, a minimalist shape.
Let’s compare. The it-bags of each respective label both have a square shape, rolled top handles, minimal hardware, and provide utility, space, and function. It is likely these design elements will stay and an Los Angelino edge will be incorporated into anything Slimane will create.
THE FUTURE OF CELINE IN A DIGITAL ERA
New to social media with an official instagram account being created in mid 2017, Celine quickly gained a following of nearly 900k and averages 10k to 20k engagements per post. With Hedi Slimane’s Hollywood connections, cult instagram following, and edgy photography, it is likely the label will continue to grow its brand relevance through the platform
A NEW AUDIENCE
Praised for its ad campaign featuring Joan Didion in high flash photography, Celine is known to celebrate women of all ages. Celine runway apparel and handbag collections can both be seen on women in their 40s, 50s, and even 60s. The brand resonates with the female gaze, attracting women who focus on dressing for themselves rather than men. However, Saint Laurent has been known to attract a younger, louder, sexier woman who is not afraid to reveal her personality. Runway apparel and handbag collections can be seen on both women and men in their early 20’s and 30’s. Often, they are wearing head to toe Saint Laurent looks, purchased at full price. With Celine’s style soon to embody Mr. Slimane’s edge and debut a menswear collection, Saint Laurent’s loyal following is likely to graduate to Celine’s more refined style.
Photo: Juergen Teller, Courtesy of Céline
THE MIDAS TOUCH
Everything Hedi Slimane touches turns to gold, intentional or not, his creations drove revenue for Saint Laurent and saved the label from becoming a fashion heritage brand to a label that sets the trends. While his edgy rocker aesthetic is far from Celine’s structured and clean lined style, he is able to empower women through his designs and that will drive his success at Celine. No one knows what is to come from the new Celine under Mr. Slimane but it is sure to please all.