How very 2018: French cult brand Céline told the world of its choice of new creative director through its Instagram account. More surprising was the man picked to replace Pheobe Philo, brilliant drama magnet Hedi Slimane who would not only head up the brand but launch its first menswear line.
An acclaimed designer, photographer and widely considered a cult stylist too, French-Tunisian Slimane has achieved much in his 49 years. He was the creator of two important style waves which have influenced both the way men dress today and how we’ll remember the past two decades fashion-wise for years to come. At the end of the 1990s, when he was creative director of Dior Homme, his signature silhouette – super skinny, dark and sharp – drove the trends for many seasons and redefined elegant dressing for men.
After almost 10 years of absence from the scene, which he dedicated to his other passion photography, Slimane joined Saint Laurant in the top design job and relaunched a fresh wave of ’90s-inspired reconstructed grunge, leather jackets and studs, channelling his impression of that era’s decadence, rock stars and excesses. He even spearheaded the decision to change the iconic brand’s name and logo.
Then, as quickly as he appeared at the company formerly known as Yves Saint Laurent, he announced his departure in April 2016 and was gone, underground again and leaving industry observers guessing.
Now, his appointment as replacement for the incredibly popular Phoebe Philo, who left Celine for personal reasons after years of supreme reign, comes as both a surprise and a challenge. Will he embrace her sophisticated and intellectually minimalist aesthetic for the brand? Only time will tell.
Certainly, it heralds his return to a position of fashion power, although not in the role many insiders expected. (Rumour had it his next brand home would be Chanel, as a replacement for long-serving but ailing Karl Lagerfeld.)
Now, after his appointment, and the replacement of Christopher Bailey at Burberry with Riccardo Tisci, Kim Jones’ appointment to Dior, and Versace’s current search to find a creative heir to the throne, men’s fashion is undoubtedly heading into a ground-breaking creative time.
These are the designers who will define men’s fashion in the 2020s. Gentlemen, start your engines.