But coolness is not necesarrily fierce or edgy
It takes a certain woman to wear Celine. She must be of a certain age (young, of course), have a certain height (tall, of course), a certain weight (thin, of course). And a certain insouciance (haughty, of course). If that’s not particularly inclusive, that’s because it is not. Hedi Slimane has a very specific woman in mind for Celine. That’s why in the show credits of the autumn/winter 2022 collection, it is clearly stated that it’s Mr Slimane who casted the production (and did almost everything, including the directing and filming). That is why he very specifically chose the pride of Thailand, Lisa (born as Pranpriya) Manobal of Blackpink, pictured above, as his purported muse (her second video-runway presentation for the house). Ms Manobal, of Swiss and Thai parentage, is 25 years old, 1.67 metres tall, and weighs about 45 kilograms. With a look that is part sexy, part schoolgirlish, and part ingénue, she is perfect. A native of the Isan province of Buriram, Ms Manobal is now the face of Parisian street-style cool, starring in Celine’s current ad campaign, Portrait of a Musician.
Mr Slimane, as it is popularly known, has a thing for singers and songwriters. This season, he has specially commissioned (and even co-produced) for his stubbornly still filmic runway, a track, Byron is Dead, by the American indie hipster-rocker Leah Hennessy, performing as Hennessy, her New York band. The song is a catwalk-as-disco extension (spin-off?) of their charming and infectious and immensely likeable dance-punk cover of The Waterboy’s We will not be Lovers (from the 1988 album Fisherman’s Blues), which purportedly first drew Mr Slimane to the alt-leaning artiste, looking somewhat Byron-esque in the MV of that single. It is admittedly a delicious pairing—the electro-moody pulse-thrust contrasts with the first venue, the 18th century interior of Hôtel de la Marine in Place de la Concorde of the French capital (designed by the same man behind Versailles’ Le Petit Trianon, Ange-Jacques Gabriel) and beats suitably in the “architectural pavilion”, as Celine describes, of the second that Mr Slimane has designed on the grounds of Hôtel des Invalides. It is doubtlessly a controlled affair, based on the exact obsessions of one man.
Mr Slimane told Vogue in 2020 how crucial music is to the clothes: “I just immediately recognise the sound that reflects the character I want to depict in a show and that could give a rhythm for a specific allure and walk for the models,” adding, “the soundtrack and cast are what define the styling, its degree of credibility, its authenticity. What you hear and what you see are all part of one thing, one world as a whole.” It is, of course, Mr Slimane’s world, his whole—an aggregate comprising everyday staples that have been raved by fans as “elevated” (the hoodie now an elliptical dress?). This has always been his approach, but whether anything is raised to a higher level is not always discernible. It is as if he plays the wardrobe master on tour with a rock musician. Mr Slimane does not design the way, say, Glenn Martens does. He has a keen affinity to ‘looks’ of the past and recreates them with the vernacular of today, born on the streets of Paris. There is always a vintage-y vibe. As one fashion journalist told us, “give me a few hours in Chatuchak, and I’ll be able to style a collection like that!”
Called Dans Paris (in Paris), the collection purportedly harks back to Celine’s roots. But it has less to do with the decade of its founding (in the ’40s) than the years of its heydays (in the ’60s and ’70s). Turtlenecks are the base for many of the ensembles, worn with thick chain-link necklace, under tops/outers that would be familiar among work-wear aficionados. Jackets are either oversized and slouchy, or boxy and cropped. Denim jeans of a lighter wash are prominent, with their stitched/laundered/unstitched hem. So too are slim-fitting skirts of varying lengths that suggest either secretarial sleek or party-girl scantiness. Leather this or that are aplenty too. Hedi Slimane’s Celine is the go-to label when women need something considered “dressed up” and the compulsory cool, whether a night with the BFFs or impressions-are-important dates. The dress with a ruffled top, the side-boob-revealing halterneck blouse, the long sheath with cutouts at the waist and the slit in the middle—and others—attest the truth of that observation. These are feel-good clothes for a good-time out. And the times are back.
Screen shot (top): Celine/YouTube. Photos: Celine