MENSWEAR, MOST CONVINCING WITH A TAUT BASSLINE

There’s something reassuring about having the world going by as a fashion show strides on. A goldfish bowl – tank! – installed at the Place de la Concorde, the grand axis of Paris and guillotine site where Louis XV was executed (enough of that) emphasised the belief that fashion is truly charged when in dialogue with the street.

The occasion? The first Celine menswear show ever. What does it look like? Hedi Slimane. At his most impressive.

Forget how many buttons are on a jacket – though not the rectangular proportion with plenty of room for contorting yourself, which is important. This is menswear most convincing, with a taut bassline.

Which is Slimane’s blue plaque of sorts, since the designer’s work at Dior Homme in the 00s to stirring rhythm ultimately enabled the panorama today where every house must have it’s own menswear line, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with womenswear (and no, not above or below: equal.) It’s why this occasion is happening at Celine.

To fuss about about a womenswear label opening up to include men for the first time would be to ignore a bigger picture: couture was never about men, anyway. Anywhere. Every golden 20th century name on today’s perfume counter was pour femme, the creators themselves dressed in classic suiting. Modern menswear is progressive architecture and the point we’re at today is testament to the beauty of a journey, with all its renovations and elaborations. The word again, since it’s so lovely: equal. And the freedom to move in and between each marker. We must all get dressed (why must we get stressed?)

Besides, it’s far more joyfully complex a matter given the pedigree of this designer, renowned for making menswear borrowed (and loved) by women from the get-go.

A London Diary: Polaroids of the British Youth goes the collection, after Slimane spent time in England last year, seeing gigs, photographing emerging British bands and street casting, drawing on a relationship with UK music that goes back to his early days –  by association, he was the NME’s star photographer! A Polaroid, with all its energy of a moment, is enjoying another one, having seen its language digitally co-opted by Instagram.

The tribute follows the Summer Part II campaign, featuring musicians from Drug Store Romeos, Walt Disco, Ugly and Lady Bird. For all the posh, this is the only maison to have bigged-up a chain pub, thanks to the latter band’s soundtrack ‘Spoons’. Ugly too have a song called ‘The Last Supper at the Regal Wetherspoon’. You can’t deny Slimane’s accuracy in plugging into British culture. Hedi’s boys are kings of the sticky carpet, in looks that veer between ‘where’s my tenner?’ and ‘it’s my round’.

Stylistically, Winter ’19 played an ace, the New Wave and Post Punk vocabulary subtly blended with tropes evoking 70s and 80s bourgeois Celine. The integration of artworks into the clothes was flawless, with visuals by Anneli Henriksson, Cody DeFranco and David Hominal realised as sequinned tailoring or the checkerboard lining of a biker.

And then, from meticulous to (James) Chance. The legendary No Wave musician was invited by Slimane for the sax finale, segueing from the terrific soundtrack ‘Philosopher’s Calling’ by Crack Cloud. A lyric from which utters: “What a privilege for the mind / We should do it all the time / We should do it all the time.”

CELINE’S FIRST MENSWEAR SHOW, AUTUMN/WINTER 2019
JANUARY 2019
TEXT DEAN MAYO DAVIES