Fashion
  • Text Alex James Taylor
  • 8th February 2021

Teen knight poem

In 2018, Hedi Slimane’s tenure at Celine began with a Garde Republicaine drum roll. Now, six seasons later, the courageous knights enter the frame. At Château de Chambord, originally built to serve as a hunting lodge for François I and later completed by Louis XIV, a parade of young men gallop on horseback through its grounds, bearing Celine flags as they ride. Those rolling drums we mentioned earlier beat once again, this time merging into an original spoken word composition named Time Slip and performed by The Loom, which consists of These New Puritans’ brothers, Jack and George Barnett – a duo Slimane has long championed since their first meeting in 2006.

The synth hit and the show began. Titled Teen Knight Poem, Slimane chose to present his FW21 offering via an impressive self-directed short film created last month. Across the Medieval building’s winding balcony, Celine’s infantry marched high above. “Youth parade and Renaissance – Nouveau Romantique” read the accompanying press release, announcing Slimane’s ode to youth; of its constant reinvention and new identities, of each generation’s own sensibilities and iconography, of the woven mythology that bonds it all. Here was a new tapestry telling this tale as old as time.

The baseline? “90s cold wave and goth accents.” Subcultures forged in adolescent angst and dark fantasy. In harmony with the film’s medieval narrative, what has become Slimane’s signature Celine outerwear, here became beautifully tailored armour: oversized perfecto leather jackets with animal print details, generous denim jackets and thick, oversized coats cut in tweed, houndstooth and wool as dark as the show’s synth pulse. Paired with hoodies, branded beanies and plenty of eyeliner, a historical linear was drawn between youth’s darker impulses: from London’s iconic Batcave hang to 00s emo. Lurex trousers went a bit more goth, as did zippered trousers. While large, black fluffy boots shifted goth into glam. Camo gilets and tartan skirting introduced further subcultural layers, as did thick plaid shirts, hiking boots, varsity bombers and studded everything. Elsewhere, baggy, distressed jeans made an appearance, just like those ones anyone born in the early 90s certainly knows about. As always with Slimane, these subcultural codes are blended with subtle romance and utter admiration.

And these throughlines flew further, piercing the 16th-century with the same fated bow. Throughout, shapes and silhouettes were drawn from court portraits of François I and the French Renaissance – with sloped shoulders outlining each figure – as regency ruffles peeked out of hoodies and baroque pearl earrings dangled like icicles. Some models walked in capes as necklaces swang across torsos and large silver chain iterations mirrored a series of bombers drenched in exquisite chainmail embroidery. Colours used throughout – black, tan, gold and silver – were influenced by 16th-century court and ceremonial dress: “most notably on the final look, realised by 23 embroiderers and requiring 1300 hours of work.”

On choosing Château de Chambord as a setting, Slimane revealed that he visited the location as an adolescent and “fell in love with its rigor in black and white.” It was a moment within his own nostalgia that art, history and magic had a majestic impact.

As darkness descended on the Château, these renaissance men each donned their embroidered balaclavas and flaming touches – perhaps as a symbolic gesture of passing the torch between youthful epochs, lit by a collective heat that burns throughout.