As someone who likes to take fashion with the joy, frivolity and pinch-of-salt attitude that it should be taken with, the evening of Friday 28th September was the first time I had felt a little wounded by a designer. Disappointed. Deflated. Why? It was the night that Hedi Slimane showed his debut collection as Creative Director of Parisian fashion house Celine.
In the weeks preceding the show he’d already ruffled feathers; erasing the brand’s Instagram history and removing the accent above the first e in the brand name “to enable a simplified and more balanced proportion, evoking the Celine collections of the 1960s where the accent wasn't used often”. It was akin to what he’d done as helmsman of Yves Saint Laurent; removing ‘Yves’. But all this was just preamble to what would take place at Hôtel des Invalides in Paris at the tail end of Paris Fashion Week. What ensued was a collection that looked strikingly similar to those he’d presented at Saint Laurent; overtly ‘sexy’ and worn by moody-looking models, and nothing like the Celine we’d become known and loved over the past ten years under the directorship of Phoebe Philo.
What Philo did to the once-sleepy brand was remarkable. She created an aesthetic that defined the last decade and irreversibly changed many a woman’s attitude towards fashion. She was a strong woman designing for strong women, creating clothes without pretence or suggestion; minimalist-yet-impactful silhouettes, timeless design with an edge, refreshingly devoid of the male gaze. They were clothes to be loved and worn endlessly, transcending trends while simultaneously starting them. Stan Smiths, Crombie coats, furry Birkenstocks – we have Philo to thank for all of them.
But any sense of a lasting legacy was seemingly wiped away in 15 mere minutes by Slimane, like chalk on a blackboard, and bitterness from all angles ensued. Models were barely off the runway before the fashion press expressed their disappointment; taking to social media to blast the collection, calling everything from “tone deaf” to “toxic”. But, as the saccharine quote so ubiquitous on Instagram goes, don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.
As a sort of serendipitous precursor, on the day of Hedi’s debut show street style photographer Tommy Ton, fashion consultant Ramya Giangola and influencer Tina Lundin had arranged a meet-up for Philophiles (women who loved and bought into Philo’s work for Celine) at La Bar Du Caveau. Ton photographed the women, all wearing their best Celine pieces, as they chatted and celebrated the Philo era over glasses of champagne. It was almost as if they knew that whatever was to come next for the fashion house, it would never quite match up to what had been.
Since that Friday, something of a movement has been begun. The hashtag #OldCeline has started popping up in Insta feeds of fashion followers the world over, and its corresponding account @OldCeline – started just after Slimane announced the removal of the accent from the name – has received an influx of nostalgic new followers keen to reminisce, rocketing to over 55k in the past week.
Queues at the Celine concession in Paris department store Printemps have also begun to form, with customers desperate to get a bag a piece of #OldCeline before it leaves shelves, and a plethora of street style stars, influencers and fashion insiders have documented their pilgrimages to Celine stores, sharing their purchases on social media.
Remarkably, for the first time, we’re coveting old not new. Luxury resale site Vestiaire Collective has noticed a surge in customers searching for Celine since 28th September too. Compared to the same time last year, sessions on Celine pages on the site increased by 275%, with the number of Celine products sold increasing by 43%.
So, if like many others you’re mourning old Celine, here are some ways to keep Philo’s flame alive.
Follow these Insta accounts…
Ramya Giangola, @GoGoLuxe
The LA-based fashion consultant is a self-confessed Philophile and looks to have successfully bagged every cult piece of Philo’s Celine over the years. Her collection is envy-inducing. She’s saving it all for her daughter to also enjoy when she’s older but what’s most satisfying is that Ramya actually wears all of her pieces and doesn’t keep them locked away, despite how precious they are. A daily glance at her Insta feed is all you need for some well-dressed inspiration.
Natasha Goldenberg, @NGoldenberg
The Russian fashion editor and street style star has one of the most lust-worthy wardrobes we’ve ever come across, so of course it contains a fair amount of Celine. She’s less of a head-to-toe Celine woman, but has a knack for mixing key pieces in with her other designer garbs.
Tina Lundin, @L_T_W_S_
Influencer Tina will make you seriously regret that you didn’t spend every spare penny you had over the last 10 years on Celine. But once you’ve got over that, you’ll be glad that she did and has countless Celine looks to share as a result.
Buy these #OldCeline pieces before they leave stores…
The Alphabet Pendant
The gold-plated, twig-like letters debuted at the Autumn/Winter 2017 show, hanging around model’s necks on chains and cord. You can’t get them via the Celine website anymore but track them down in stores and concessions.
The Padded Belt Trousers
Spotted all over the fashion week street style circuit, these wide-leg trousers with a distinctive padded belt buckle are from the pre-fall 2018 collection, Philo’s final offering for the brand. An icon in the making.
The Trio Bag
Often, when a new designer takes over a brand cult items remain on sale, but we can’t be sure of anything when it comes to the new Celine. So, if you can afford it, splash out a Celine Trio bag now. The triple-pouch cross-body bag is a true accessory icon and worth every hard-earned penny.
And if you can’t get hold of actual Celine, try these brands...
The Olsen twins were tipped to take over from Philo at one point, and there’s no denying they would have been a perfect fit. Their own brand, The Row, shares all the codes of Philo’s Celine with its minimalist aesthetic and wear-forever sensibility. The pieces are expensive but you’ll treasure them for years.