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Hedi Slimane taking the reins at Céline
[LOS ANGELES] Hedi Slimane, one of the most successful but also controversial designers of his generation, will be the new artistic, creative and image director of Céline, the luxury giant LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton announced Sunday.
He will control all aspects of the collections and the brand image, including advertising campaigns and store design. He will introduce a men's collection and work on fragrance as well as fashion and accessories.
The move is a return home of sorts for Mr Slimane, 49, who began his career at Yves Saint Laurent and was hired by LVMH in 2000 to create Dior Homme, where his pin-thin jeans and sharp tailoring became the stuff of men's (and some women's) obsessions. He left Dior Homme in 2007 and returned to Yves Saint Laurent, owned by LVMH's rival Kering, as creative and image director in 2012.
"I am particularly happy that Hedi is back within the LVMH Group and taking the reins of our Céline maison," Bernard Arnault, the chairman and chief executive of LVMH, said in a statement. "He is one of the most talented designers of our time. His arrival at Céline reinforces the great ambitions that LVMH has for this maison. He will leverage his global vision and unique aesthetic virtuosity in further building an iconic French maison." (Industry observers still remember Arnault's wearing Mr Slimane's Dior Homme suits.) The appointment also signifies a potential major shift in direction for Céline, where the former designer, Phoebe Philo, 45, became a hero to fashionable women for her emphasis on clothes for working women like herself. Mr Slimane's history suggests the change may be partly a play on the part of LVMH for that great intangible, "cool," and the younger, often millennial customers who desire it.
At Saint Laurent, Mr Slimane became famous for collections seemingly aimed at the young and the fretless, including the musicians, models and hangers-on he met in Los Angeles, where he made his home and where he relocated the Saint Laurent studio. The result delighted customers - Mr Slimane's Saint Laurent sold well - but frustrated some critics with its unwavering commitment to a narrowly defined rock look. Slimane left the company in 2016.
LVMH is understood to be putting its full support behind Mr Slimane. Indeed, his return is part of an ambitious plan to expand Céline, which now has an annual turnover of slightly less than 1 billion euros (S$1.62 billion) - midsized by LVMH brand standards - into a Dior-size brand.
In October, the fashion and leather goods division of LVMH - the largest contributor of earnings and the sector of which Céline is a part - reported a 13 percent increase in revenues, to 3.9 billion euros, in the third quarter of 2017 alone.
Like his Saint Laurent studio, Mr Slimane's Céline studio will be based in Los Angeles, with a prototype studio and an atelier in Paris. (The London studio established by Ms Philo, who lives in London, will close.) His first show, which will combine womenswear and menswear, will be held in September.