At 8pm on the Sunday of Paris Men’s Fashion Week, Celine was the last collection to show. But it was also a first. This was the first time the fashion house presented a men’s collection. And who better to be behind it than the expert men’s designer, Hedi Slimane? From single-handedly starting the skinny suit trend with Dior Homme back in 2000 and rescuing Saint Laurent when it was at the edge of irrelevance, Slimane is quite the influential force. For his debut at Celine, he’s created a men’s collection that remains loyal to his aesthetic. We definitely witness his signature rocker style, grunge vibe, youthful ‘boy’ culture that was used to reinvent Saint Laurent.
Some have criticised the designer for “cheapening” these fashion houses (remember how he dropped the ‘Yves’ from Yves Saint Laurent?), but Slimane’s looks for Celine aren’t trying to cater to new generations the way Virgil Abloh’s Louis Vuitton or Off-White seem to be. Celine is redirecting them away from streetwear as we know it, shaping a different look for this generation’s ‘New Boy’. With lean tailoring and a complete lack of baggy hoodies, Celine’s first men’s collection channels English schoolboy classics, moving us away from the over-saturated world of athleisure. Here are the things we’ll be looking out for in ‘New Boy’ fashion.
1. The Suit
We all think the suit is dead. Until Slimane says it isn’t. The first look of the show said it all: a black double breasted suit, a white shirt, the skinniest tie. Formal tailoring has appeared for the first time in a generation, and it’s so alien to our times that the models looked like little boys trying on their dad’s 80s-Armani style suits. But it’s all deliberate of course. This is the ‘New Boy’, and he’s embracing a new fashion world.
2. Skinny ties
Has there been a single Gen Zer who’s worn one of these? The ties to look out for are chic, edgy, and pencil-thin. Literally by name, Slimane is associated with the slim man. These super slim ties add youth and skinniness to their wearers and made the already rake-like models even more lightweight.
It’s hard to miss the small-rimmed sunglasses that topped off almost every look. While the tailored suits were a homage to the old-school British boy (Slimane had been spending a lot of time in London), the sunglasses add a touch of new wave post-punk into the mix (he was also listening to a lot of British indie music). The whole collection is a series of polaroids of British youth culture.
Black is the timeless power colour of fashion. Celine is endorsing it along with other sedate colours like white and grey to create a blend of sophistication, rockstar-style grunge and mystery.
5. Surprising layers
While the colour palette may be serious and macabre, the collection does have a playful side in its mixing up of themes. As well as the classic English tweed-coat-on-grey-suit combination, there’s also a leather bomber paired with a knitted retirement-home-esque sweater and a glittery tiger print coat with a black wool suit.
6. No trainers
While nearly every other designer is scrambling for the attention of the younger generation with chunky or neon sneakers, Slimane is groundbreaking just by being persistent. There was not a single pair of trainers that walked the Celine runway. No T-shirts, no hoodies. Formal leather shoes are back with a vengeance. The new generation are being invited to follow Celine in their leather-soled footsteps.
7. Not just for boys
Celine’s colour palette may be black and white, but that’s not their attitude to gender. Although presented as menswear, the entire collection will also be available for women in women’s sizes. Any fashion house looking to the future will know that new consumers don’t care for gendered clothing.
There’s no doubt that men’s fashion is about to change. The fashion critic, Angelo Flaccavento, described Slimane’s new collection as ‘desirable, not innovative’. But in a world of constant and sometimes even unnecessary innovation, it’s quite refreshing to see someone sticking to their guns. Celine’s first men’s collection is a hopeful change for the nostalgics amongst us. Modern streetwear is old news; something more classic, iconic, and full of history? Now that’s new.