Ready or Not: The New Look of Celine Is Very Different

“You don’t enter a fashion house to imitate the work of your predecessor,” Hedi Slimane told Business of Fashion for an article published earlier this week. The notably press-shy designer gave a rare interview that would, as we found out today, set the tone for what we could expect when his first collection for Celine made its runway debut. So, for Paris Fashion Week, Slimane sent his guests an invitation: a book filled with removable posters welcoming them to a venue built by the Hôtel des Invalides, distributed Celine-branded (sans accent) Champagne, and fully delivered on his word. Here's what else to know from today's show.

The First Look at the New Celine

The runway opened with a party dress. Mini-length, polka-dot, strapless, with a bow tie at the bust that extended into wing-like oversize sleeves. Atop the model's head, as well as most models in the runway show, a fascinator with a mesh veil. On her feet: moto boots. This is the new Celine, we thought. 

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The Slimane Legacy Continues

Anyone's who's followed Slimane's career, particularly during his tenure at Saint Laurent from 2012 to 2016, might not be incredibly surprised by the other notable themes in the collection. There was an almost exclusively black color palette, the favored hemline was short, and the presence of glam rock was palpable in sequins, feathers, leather, and silhouettes reminisce of the '80s (think paper-bag waists, ruffled skirts, and broad shoulders). There were also variations on Le Smoking seen throughout. 

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Menswear Makes Its Debut

While any of these elements would have provided a huge shift for the Phoebe Philo–era Celine identity, another defining moment of Slimane's debut was the introduction of menswear. The silhouettes—be it suiting or trench coats—were slim-fit and classic. The ties? Even slimmer.

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The New It Bags

While this season, fellow new-to-a-brand designer Riccardo Tisci decided to opt out of a celebrity-heavy runway crowd, Slimane turned to some of his most influential friends for this new chapter. Most will remember Lady Gaga giving a first look at the new Celine It handbag nearly a month ago, and in a similar style, K-pop star CL shared a peek at another design—a quilted, chain-strapped Celine handbag—moments before sitting front row at the show. Among today's A-list crowd was another famous supporter: Karl Lagerfeld himself.

For impassioned Philo fans who live for the designer's brand of minimal, effortless, empowering fashion that Celine had previously been known for, this new era might take some getting used to. "At Celine, the weight of the past is not as strong as at Dior or Saint Laurent," Slimane also stated to BoF, foreshadowing today's show. "We can break free of it more easily."

Simply put, S/S 19 Celine is steeped in Slimane's identity as a designer. It's rock 'n' roll, it's structured, it's moody—it's everything Slimane had promised. But what it's not? Philo. And it's ultimately up to consumers to decide if change is good.