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At Celine, Hedi Slimane’s ‘Portrait of a Generation’

The designer’s latest ode to youth lacked vitality. Take away the Celine logos and it could have been anything, but there was plenty of tempting merchandise, writes Angelo Flaccavento.

And the mountain birthed a little mouse: after two gruelling hours of delay — inexplicable as the show was filmed on October 8th — Celine finally aired its Spring/Summer 21 collection and it was, well, more of the same. Save for an athletic vibe which pervaded the effort (not that adding a touch of sport or a pair of flat white sneakers is particularly new nowadays) nothing seems to move much in the always adolescent never-never land of Hedi Slimane’s Celine, built on the repetitive updating of vintage shapes, mismatched in haphazard looks.

The show notes talked about a “portrait of a generation” and delivering a message of hope and optimism. But one could barely see anything resembling hope or optimism in the emotionless cast marching around Monaco’s Louis II stadium, which in glaring sunlight felt more Los Angeles than French Riviera.

Slimane has his vision and his codes, and he keeps hammering them to death. They can form a path to success or a route to self-destruction. For sure, it is not the road to fashion enlightenment. What’s clear is the lack of vitality in the recipe, translated into a mass of merchandise whose only link to “Celine” seems to be the logos splattered everywhere. Take away CELINE, and this could be anything.

Slimane seems to share Raf Simons’ obsession with youth. But the fact is, youth is not so easily reduced to a formula. Celine, instead, feels like a fantasy of youth manufactured by someone who is not young anymore. That said, from windbreakers to bucket bags, there was plenty of tempting merchandise.

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