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  • Karin Nelson

Inside Hedi Slimane's Retail Makeover of Celine

Elaine Cameron-Weir’s Snake X, 2019, in Celine’s Tokyo Omotesando store.

Photo courtesy of Celine.

Hedi Slimane prefers to play his cards close to his vest, so it’s hard to know exactly what he’s thinking. But the man likes his music, and he clearly let his song choice speak for him at the fall women’s-wear show for Celine, his second for the French brand: “J’ai un plan pour te garder.” Sung over and over in a playful woman’s voice, the message—“I have a plan to keep you”—seemed directed toward those who had criticized him for dropping the logo’s accent aigu and forgoing the 74-year-old house’s bourgeois history in favor of his own signature youthful rock ’n’ roll aesthetic.

Virginia Overton’s Untitled, 2017, in the Los Angeles Rodeo Drive store.

Photo courtesy of Celine.

Indeed, he does have a plan, and not just when it comes to the clothes, which were pure 1970s Parisian chic, and the highlight of Fashion Week. He also intends to win over naysayers with his store designs. Slimane has always been somewhat of a polymath, using fashion as a vehicle with which to explore other creative outlets. While at Dior Homme and Saint Laurent, he focused on photography and music, releasing books of his own portraits and using ad campaigns that he had lensed to promote the musicians, both new and old, that he was into. Now, at Celine, his attention has turned toward art and design.

David Nash’s Sheaves, 2000, in the Rodeo Drive store.

Photo courtesy of Celine.

Under his creative direction, Celine’s New York, Paris, Tokyo, Milan, and L.A. retail spaces have been reworked in “a refined 21st-century brutalist context,” as the company puts it. Which is to say, each striking space is uniquely outfitted with natural stone and wood surfaces, reflective fixtures, and site-specific works from a notable roster of contemporary artists, including Theaster Gates, Oscar Tuazon, and Virginia Overton. They, alone, are worth a trip to the stores.

David Adamo’s Untitled, 2016, in the Paris Montaigne store.

Photo courtesy of Celine.

At the New York flagship, on Madison Avenue, which was the first to undergo his redesign, swaths of Roman lava stone and bianco Raffaello marble grandly showcase not just the clothes but also sculptures by James Balmforth and Jose Dávila. Also on display is furniture of Slimane’s own design—he had released a line of ebonized steel pieces in 2007, and he now seems to be taking the pursuit more seriously. His latest creations—minimalist-looking boxy chairs designed in the spirit of Donald Judd—play a crucial role in the stores’ interiors.

A store, with a vintage lamp and chairs by Hedi Slimane.

Photo courtesy of Celine.

As does the artwork on display, which includes Elaine Cameron-Weir’s slinky cascade of copper scales at the Tokyo flagship and Davina Semo’s steel-chain wall hangings at the Paris Montaigne space. There are also striking works by Lukas Geronimas, Charles Harlan, Rindon Johnson, Shawn Kuruneru, Artur Lescher, Marie Lund, Luca Monterastelli, David Nash, and David Adamo, who appears to be one of Slimane’s favorite new artists. The Berlin-based sculptor’s totemlike cedarwood creations are spread across several boutiques, including Celine’s men’s-wear flagship in Paris, on rue François 1er. “Fashion isn’t really my world,” Adamo says. “But once I saw the context, it made sense. There’s a roughness to my pieces that works well against the high-design slickness of the space.”

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