Celine Goes YSL in Controversial Spring Summer 2019 Presentation

By Taraneh Azar, Runway Correspondent
Photography courtesy of Iker Aldama / Indigital.tv for Vogue Runway
Special thanks to Diet Prada for influencing photo selections.

When Hedi Slimane removed the accent from Céline as his first move since becoming the brand’s creative director earlier this year it should have been the first red flag. Although one couldn’t anticipate a complete change for the worse from that single action, Slimane’s first show at Paris Fashion Week hammered the final nail into the coffin of Phoebe Philo’s Céline.

Left: Saint Laurent FW17 RTW. Right: Celine Spring 19 RTW

Initial reactions to the SS19 Celine presentation were “Saint Laurent just redid their whole last season”, but here’s the kicker; it was just Slimane redoing his former YSL collections for Celine. As creative director of Saint Laurent from 2012 to 2014, Slimane tailored the house into the glorious pillar of fashion we know it as today—an edgy, hyper-sleek, classic yet innovative brand. As he brings his powerful influence to Celine, his first presentation for the house proves rebranding may be what Slimane does best.

Left: Saint Laurent Fall 2015 Menswear. Right: Celine Spring 2019 RTW

Sleek biker jackets, tailored pinstripe tuxedos, sequined blazers, and a ‘mixed-gender’ cast typified the presentation, harkening back to Slimane’s work with YSL. Pointed booties with silver hardware buckles and studded leather in all facets recurred throughout the presentation. Ruffle-neck lace tops preceded more sequins, more lace, more leather, and more smartly cut skinny-silhouettes that are perfect for business meetings, funerals, and smoking cigarettes with your biker friends. The all-gender stylings of stiff-cut, sleek suits spoke back to European trends of 2017, while silver-studded fur coats hinted at emerging trends. The incorporation of leather, while repetitive and characteristically Slimane, was beautifully done.

Left: Saint Laurent FW17 RTW. Right: Celine Spring 2019 RTW

The show wasn’t all black all the time, however;  red pointed oxfords, multi-colored cardigans and acid-bleached jeans were incorporated into the collection. Leopard print, a YSL pattern staple, popped up, too. These slight variations on Slimane’s typical black sequins-and-leather, monochromatic approach, however interesting, barely distracted from the boring styling and repetitive cuts of the collection.

Left: Saint Laurent Fall 2015 Menswear. Right: Celine Spring 2019 RTW

In short, the show resembled an alternate reality where greasers meet mods and go to a funeral, perhaps mourning the once refined, sophisticated, and artful Céline legacy. While the garments presented were well-constructed, the striking similarities between this collection and Slimane’s previous works left viewers largely dissatisfied. Slimane’s work at Dior Homme, Jil Sander and Saint Laurent established him as a highly-influential creative director. Consequently, global audiences anticipated his first presentation for Celine to set the bar for the Spring 2019 season. Unfortunately, mimicking and rebranding his previous collections failed to satisfy admirers of both Slimane and the once-holy Céline emblem.

Left: Saint Laurent Fall 2016 Menswear. Right: Celine Spring 2019 RTW


Although largely lamentable to Céline fans, Slimane’s presentation has picked up much more traction than Phoebe Philo’s monumental creative contributions to the house ever did. The consequences of the presentation make it seem as though all a house needs is an ultra-successful creative influencer to commercially succeed in global markets today. Thus, the legacy of Céline as a beacon of by-women-for-women style and culture of more than a decade has been destroyed and appropriated by a man. How fitting.