“I have nostalgia for things I have probably never known….There is no irony here.” Okay.
Hedi Slimane didn’t speak these words—direct quoting not being his style—but he let the artist David Kramer say them for him in a book of posters given out at the show. Slimane (born 1968) and Kramer (born 1963) are soul mates, doomed to be eternally pissed that they were born fractionally too late to experience the rock-and-roll hedonism of the early ’70s. They didn’t get to swagger high-waist flares and dandified Savile Row tailored suits; to go backstage around the Stones when they were heading hippie in ’67; to seriously don panamas and grow their hair long—when all that was damned new and cool.
The return to boyhood dreams has been a recurring theme in the menswear collections this season. The connection Slimane made with Kramer’s work revealingly tied it all back into that same thing. He laid it all out for a new generation in the repertoire of high-hoicked, butt-clinching boot-cut pants and jeans, tiny bomber jackets, and all the minutely observed retailored throwbacks to rock-aristocracy style he marched out on the Celine runway.
Slimane made no concessions in the way he showed it. There was no variance on his long-established method of plunging his audience into darkness, the grand installation at the beginning—in this case, a boy in a silver glitter three-piece suit, transported on a rolling throne of a thing, surmounted by disco lights.
Fashion theme, rinsed and systematized as accessible product—in this case, aviators, pointy woven-leather Chelsea boots, and skinny ties—is Slimane’s claim on commercial dominance. It can seem emotionless, this method—his way or the highway. It will also inevitably catch criticism for his casting—there were only three black models on what appeared to be an otherwise all-Caucasian runway. The music scene never looked like that in the ’70s, and it certainly does not today. That lack of diversity might be a preventative to this Celine collection speaking as widely as it could across today’s generation.
The collection checked many boxes, registering that proto-hippy moment when white kids began to travel, picking up peasant baskets and hanging out in North Africa—the splendid gold-embroidered burnoose cape at the finale chimed in with a lot of other collections this season. Bringing up this era undoubtedly has resonance for a young generation who’s definitely not been born into fun times; Slimane’s right about that.
But somehow the habitual narrowness of his focus missed the inclusive way that kids see the world today!