#SuzyPFW: Celine’s Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie

She is nearly 50 years young – this Celine woman stepping out from an overhead mirrored box wearing a neat jacket, a scarf tied in a pussy bow and culottes – that very French divided skirt from the 1970s.

Designer Hedi Slimane scissoring street style off the fashion map was one of those moments of change – even if it was achieved by a throwback to the 1972 Luis Buñuel masterpiece movie The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie.

Oversized T-shirts, puffer jackets and baggy jeans will go into the dustbin of fashion history, if Hedi has judged correctly the new fashion mood. Yet he was the one pretending to be unsure as he received compliments backstage and I asked him if, after his years at Saint Laurent showing sexy young girls on the edge of society, he was coming back to more sophisticated Parisian style.

“I don’t know if its sexy – and you can play growing up too,” Hedi answered obliquely. Although Sydney Toledano, Chairman and CEO of the LVMH Fashion Group companies, could not hide his relief that this new turn for Celine was eminently saleable with its plethora of coats and jackets worn with almost every outfit and in fabrics from furry to leather to wool.

The significance of this change is that it comes like a rallying cry of the bourgeoisie at a moment when the French uprising enters its third month and middle-class stability is under attack from a large group of the disaffected, who call themselves ‘gilets jaunes’ (yellow vests). Yet another demonstration is set for this weekend.

What exactly was Slimane offering to combat rocky times? Bear in mind that Celine was founded as an accessories business and its success in the world of clothing only came when outgoing designer Phoebe Philo rallied a 21st-century vision of fashion from a woman’s point of view.

With little back history, Slimane turned to his deep knowledge of and experience with Saint Laurent. At that house, the current Saint Laurent designer, Anthony Vaccerello, focuses on seductive evening clothes. So, Celine could certainly fill the daytime space.

All the complexities of designer merry-go-round in the fashion world are of little interest to the general public. But clothes that genuinely reflect the lives of women today, who are mostly more at work than play, matter to what we might still call the ‘middle classes’.

What were they being offered by Celine? Nothing so new, but much to find useful: high-quality separates (as they were once known), made to last. These clothes, therefore, are the absolute opposite of throw-away fast fashion.

Slimane had the sense to throw in knee-high boots and jeans to offer a note of what can barely now be described as rebellious. But mostly he just sent out the 1970s look, although the weight and construction of it might be quite different today.

Having served eager Celine clients, maybe next time he can add a dollop of 2019 into the mix.