Can Hedi Slimane Really Replace Phoebe Philo at Celine?

It was mid-January when LVMH announced that Hedi Slimane, former art director for Saint Laurent, would be replacing Phoebe Philo at Céline. Since taking over the position February 1st, it has been a full month that Slimane has had an impact on Celine. It will be very interesting to see where Slimane takes the brand, considering the strong influence and character Philo had. Since being appointed Slimane has been tasked with creating a men’s wear, couture and fragrance for Céline.

Phoebe Philo had a tremendous impact on Céline. She created a beautiful mix of bohemian, minimal and feminist designs for the modern day woman. Philo’s design philosophy stated — casting aside the male gaze to create clothes that make women feel like the most empowered kind of superhero. And just that she did, she created collections around women’s emotions, habits, problems and fears. As Man Repeller said “she created a nuanced leap in feminist fashion, she made having an interest in fashion and design without lowering ones intellect tangible and consumable”. Philo’s designs were taken as inspiration to many fashion moguls including Virgil Abloh and Pharrell Williams. All I can wonder is how Slimane will go forth considering what Philo created and his past at Saint Laurent. He famously dropped the Yves and reinvented the brand into something for a “younger generation”. Slimane’s slick white marble and cold mirrors within the exterior of Saint Laurent stores might point to the direction that Céline could take on.

Slimane’s work at Saint Laurent received much criticism from many fashion and feminist reviewers. In most of the brand’s advertising women are either nude or in hyper sexual positions. Most of the advertising was selling a lifestyle that could be attained if you wore Saint Laurent, which is interesting since most of the ads contained little to no clothing. This is considerably different than Céline’s approach where ads are more about the designs and the ease; almost accentuating the lack of effort required to wear the garments. Céline showcased a modern working women, while Slimane states, “I try to translate a bodily attitude, and, in the end, a moral attitude: the freedom and open-mindedness of a woman” according to Dazed.

So what is next for Phoebe Philo? According to many fashion insiders… nothing. She will join Helmut Lang and Margiela who founded their own fashion houses and then left fashion for good. Philo has plans to retire, which is lovely but unfortunate for all Céline lovers everywhere.

*Feature image by Aanshika Beam.