Earlier this week, the fashion world was abuzz with the unexpected announcement that Saint Laurent and Dior Homme alumnus Hedi Slimane is poised to take over Phoebe Philo’s celebrated role as Céline’s creative director come February. While reactions to the story ranged from unbridled excitement to skepticism, this jarring changing of guard for the Céline label will only fully reveal itself to us in a hotly anticipated collection set to debut in September. Let us look ahead to what can expect from Céline’s newly-appointed lead.

Phoebe Philo, former creative director of Céline.
Hedi Slimane is taking over a role at Céline formerly occupied by Phoebe Philo

Slimane’s Los Angeles-Indebted Cool Factor

Since debuting his self-described ‘Diary’ over a decade ago, Slimane’s black-and-white photography blog has been regularly updated with now-iconic snapshots of intimate nightlife happenings. Capturing the candid behavior of the sweat-soaked, cigarette-toting regulars of Los Angeles’s thriving underground music scene, Slimane’s photo diary depicts the culture that has evidently fed his design work across Dior Homme and Saint Laurent. And given that his recent ‘diary’ updates have showcased more of the same youthful, party-centric abandon that we have come to expect, it is almost understood that Céline will adopt the hard-edged aesthetics that are so embedded in Slimane’s personal brand. After all, Slimane intends to continue residing in Los Angeles during his tenure at the Paris-based label, showing his commitment to the cultural hotbed to which his most inspired designs can be attributed.

A scene from Hedi Slimane's diary.
Hedi Slimane’s online ‘diary’ is chock full of photographic highlights from the underground music scene.

A Newly-Introduced Menswear Collection

Whether it be his engineering of Dior Homme’s famed skinny suit, or his Saint Laurent Chelsea boots which brought the silhouette out of Beatlemania and into modern ubiquity (and later, meme-able fodder), Slimane has a track record of repackaging time-spanning downtown cool into something that feels genuinely fresh and vital. For this reason, the announcement that he will spearhead Céline’s newly-instilled menswear collection promises to bear interesting results. While Slimane has a penchant for redefining a label’s identity from the ground up, the respect he has shown for Yves Saint Laurent’s legacy evidences a designer who keeps an eye on the past whilst pandering to his real-time audience. Perhaps this will play into his approach to Céline’s menswear, culling from the label’s back catalogue of women’s staples in order to refresh hackneyed menswear tropes.

Yves Saint Laurent in his youth.
Throughout his stint at Saint Laurent, Hedi Slimane honored the legacy of the Maison’s namesake.

Something totally different.

Slimane’s seeming state of arrested young adulthood has been one of his most enviable assets throughout his career. Approaching design from the viewpoint of the the transgressive twenty-somethings whom he later casts as his models has given his work an organic social media pull, making Slimane a quick-fix when it comes to boosting the youth-culture appeal of a Maison. Given Céline’s well-storied latency when it comes to engaging with the cyber world, Slimane can play a crucial role in fitting the label with a media relationship that feels current, specifically coming out of a year where headline-baiting novelty reigned supreme in the fashion world. While the path that Céline have paved while under Phoebe Philo’s rule has a singular place in the Maison’s legacy, it is safe to say that Hedi Slimane’s takeover will introduce a number of polarizing changes.

Slimane, pictured here with Yves Saint Laurent, is known to bring a rebellious affectation to his design work.

Though we are yet to see the way in which this unexpected partnership will unfold, Slimane’s return to the LVMH team since his tumultuous severance from Kering feels like a boundless new beginning for both the designer and the Céline team. In what has certainly been one of the biggest announcements to have riled up the fashion world in 2018 thus far, the Céline-Hedi Slimane partnership is a thrilling peek into the interesting year in fashion that we have to look forward to.