When legendary designer Phoebe Philo stepped down from her decade-long tenure as the creative director of Céline over the holidays, speculation immediately went to two things: where she’d go next and who could possibly fill her shoes at the brand she turned into a powerhouse. It looks as though Philo is taking a break from design at the moment, but over the weekend, we found out LVMH’s answer to the second question: Hedi Slimane, most recently the designer who turned Yves Saint Laurent into Saint Laurent.
Slimane and Philo share few similarities when it comes to design sensibility, which is likely bad news for Céline devotees who were hoping LVMH would appoint someone to carry on Philo’s vision. What the two have in common, though, is the proven ability to surprise and delight shoppers, even if, historically, their target audiences are different people. Philo has always tended to take a more sensitive and practical approach and target an older shopper—one who has kids, for example—while Slimane’s bread and butter at Saint Laurent were the party girls, with their barely-there spangly dresses and motorcycle jackets. (Personally, I’m dubious of Slimane’s appointment, but sign me up for a Céline leather moto.)
I have a hard time imagining how Slimane’s arrival will affect Céline’s current handbag lineup, but at YSL, he tended toward dark colors and generous use of the brand’s famous logo. Céline lacks that type of iconic monogram, and as we’ve seen from other brands in recent years, devising a new logo that can be used in bag hardware is an extremely precarious pursuit. Hopefully that means Slimane will stick to the logo-free track at Céline—after all, his biggest accessories success at Saint Laurent was the Sac de Jour bag, whose popularity didn’t require any outward brand markers at all.
In general, though, my biggest hope for Slimane’s appointment at Céline is that he answers one of the more interesting questions his work has always made me wonder about: what happens when the party girl grows up?