At Celine, the Designer Who Fell to Earth

A cube drifts down the runway, all four sides clad in theatrical red curtains, and the curtains slowly begin to rise, revealing a contraption made of metal and lights that holds a single model sitting in stasis waiting for his cue to get ‘out of the box.’ In his glittering diamanté-encrusted suit, he is reminiscent of David Bowie’s character Thomas Jerome Newton in Nicolas Roeg’s 1976 film ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth,’ who sits watching multiple screens at once, absorbing American culture.

The style references took us back to this period, too, with soft long hair with bangs, and high waisted tapered trousers that flared after the knee. Sartorial hints came from several statement texts on T-shirts and beautiful woven straw bags that declared ‘My Own Worst Enemy’ and ‘I Have Nostalgia for Things I Probably Have Never Known.’ They seemed like personal statements from Celine’s artistic director Hedi Slimane himself, confessions almost, though aren’t we all guilty of these things? Fashion has permanent nostalgia for things it does not know and feeds itself more with the past than any kind of present or desired future. At least here it is honest.

The boys were delightfully ambiguous, in what was one of the most refined takes on androgynous otherness we have seen so far. The fabrics and forms were the trademarks of every aspiring rockstar, with leopard, python, leather, denim and the most perfect new wave suiting. Though, as always with Slimane it never entered the territory of mimicry; his boys exuded an authentic cool, and the audience was mesmerized.

When Nicolas Roeg chose David Bowie to play the extraterrestrial, he said, “I didn’t want an actor, but someone who had the possibility of being unique.” He could easily have been talking about the choice of Slimane as Artistic Director at Celine, and that is exactly why we continue to be enthralled by him.