The highly secretive Hedi Slimane, presently at CELINE, gave a rare interview to Le Figaro. He comes off as rather restrained here, adopting a highly intellectual, romantic, and rather affected tone in his responses. At one point, when discussing masculinity—a loaded topic, coming from a designer known for redefining men’s wear taking over the creative reins from someone whose designs were always not only for women but about women—he uses the phrase “the commonplaces of virility,” rather than the word “genitals.”
The future of Celine, if this interview is anything to go by, will no longer be defined by women—Slimane never once mentions women in the interview, though he does once use the word “girls”—but by Slimane’s constant obsessions.
“I grew up between the smoke of Le Palace and the white tiles of Les Bains-Douches.… I was always surrounded by fabric. Sitting on rolls of flannel, I would wait for my mother for hours on end. I like walking in Paris for hours and hours, crossing the Seine, walking through the left bank. Paris may be the only capital left in the world where the word flâneur still make sense. I am very attached to it. I am delighted to come back to a French house, the tradition, the métiers, the ateliers. Paris is very specific when it comes to ‘handmade,’ which is incredibly chic.”
“When I was a teenager, everything was always too big on me.… I would float in everything. Designers are nothing without their models. I see them as artists.… If a dress that I particularly love doesn’t have a body that wears it, it won’t make it onto the catwalk because it’s not embodied.”
“I frequently went [to Los Angeles] since the end of the 1990s. I would start all my Dior collections there, in my hotel room. The city was still asleep, so it was the perfect time to fill in a blank page. I am thinking about [relocating to Europe]. I still haven’t made up my mind.… I also think that I have explored the city from top to bottom.”
“Donald Trump’s election created a climate of uncertainty so strong that you cannot escape it. California joined the resistance, but the energy has fatally changed. I still live in Los Angeles, but it is different.… The city has changed today. It’s been taken over and the authenticity is slowly getting lost because the megalopolis appeals to the world and the youth.
“You don’t enter a fashion house to imitate the work of your predecessor, much less to take over the essence of their work, their codes and elements of their language. The goal is not to go the opposite way of their work either. It would be a misinterpretation. Consistency, rigor, accuracy—this is what is meaningful to me. I want the integrity of this route. It will perpetuate at Celine. It’s a lifelong story. The idea is not to derogate from my style, from what made me.”
“Respect is to preserve the integrity of everyone, to recognize things that belong to another person with honesty and discernment. It also means starting a new chapter. You arrive with a story, a culture, a personal language that is different from those of the house. You have to be yourself, against all odds.”
“At Celine, I come back to the classic perception of my job from when I started 20 years ago, without any nostalgia. I have this tradition in me. All I do is all I am. I stand firm for my principles. Why should I give up on what defines me?
“At Celine, the weight of the past is not as strong as at Dior or Saint Laurent. We can break free of it more easily.… Starting from here, we can coin a vocabulary. What’s important is always now.”
“This recurrent millennial term, used in a way of a business school lesson, described with statistics and numbers, is boring. No matter the time in history, [the youth] are this pure energy, the exaltation of every moment and the emotion of the skin, living their lives at full speed.”
“Social media is a fantastic revolution and will always be a bit like the Wild West. I guess that’s what makes it so charming.… We have to be as enthusiastic about it as we were in the early days. The selfie-craze is an anthropological topic in and of itself. It’s interesting to see what this will become in the long term.”
“I don’t have any private accounts on social media. I don’t have a personal Instagram account.… I understand the excitement, but to me, the personal privacy seems to be the last luxury that must be preserved.”
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