Teenage Daydream

Celine FW21
By Alex James Taylor | Fashion | 14 April 2021

As a FW21 show invitation, Hedi Slimane sent editors a luxury we’d been short on lately: possibilities. A set of gold decision dice engraved with different answers let us roll our own fate.

Via the subtle pluck of a harp this notion carried over to Celine’s latest collection film – lulling us into a daydream backdropped by the Château de Vaux le Vicomte. In the Baroque building’s incredible Jardin à la française, scenes flashed from the chateau’s statues to monochrome shots of models frozen in melancholy poses. Suddenly the harp strings left for a more imposing beat: Un Day Dream by Regina Demina. Now we’re dreaming.

Lines of poetry poignant to Slimane punctuated the collection notes: Paul Verlaine’s My Familiar Dream (“Her gaze is like the gaze of statues”). Charles Baudelaire’s The Enemy (My youth has been nothing but a tenebrous storm, pierced now and then by rays of brilliant sunshine”). And Arthur Rimbaud’s Parade (“I alone have the key to this savage parade”). The latter poem can be found in Rimbaud’s Les Illuminations (1886) collection – seductive tales of outsider youth written by a 19th century punk in surreal and fantastical verse – and provides the title of Slimane’s FW21 vision. (Slimane nerds: the designer referenced Rimbaud’s poem Le Dormeur du Val in his Dior Homme SS02 collection, Boys Don’t Cry.)

“A utopian parade and melancholic daydream of youth interrupted,” was how the designer outlined his latest work, beckoning us down the rabbit-hole. Like all dreamworlds, this one was rooted in reality. Girls marched, mazing through the Vaux le Vicomte’s vast gardens dressed in the latest chapter of Slimane’s tapestry born from a contemporary bourgeoise adrenaline.

Shaking us out of our lockdown malaise, the designer pointed out the route, merging pragmatic pieces with those that hinted at after-hours allure. Tropes that have become signature to the designer’s Celine womenswear vision reappeared – the tweed blazers, the leather culottes, the logo caps, the pale blue denim and fur gilets – alongside fantasy elements like romantic princess gowns and sequinned dresses that glistened in harmony with the symphony of fountains in play around them. Outerwear was often layered above hoodies, while on foot, heels were left indoors as models walked in hiking boots, riding boots, trainers and loafers. A stunning, fully hand-embroidered crinoline skirt paired with a leather bomber proved Slimane’s impeccable vision of sartorial duality.

The film ended with a model overlooking the gardens as a fireworks display lit up the night sky. She watched, stood alongside a deer: in mythology a deer symbolises the supernatural and otherworldly, they are guides through the ethereal forest.

For Slimane, a designer forever plugged into the zeitgeist of youth, this season’s muse was the frustrated energy of a young woman stuck in this strange and restricting period of lockdown. Bored and restless, she daydreams her way to a brighter future. Like a Disney princess locked in the tower, her imagination is her escape – and she’s got big plans.

GALLERYCatwalk images from Celine WFW21