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Hedi Slimane Drops a Surprise Celine Show

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Of all the designers who stepped off the fashion wheel during the pandemic-induced show hiatus, Hedi Slimane of Celine is one of the very few who has not returned to the same-old-same-old runway system. Instead he offers up his collections when and how he wants.

His last live women’s show was part of a dual-gender extravaganza at the Wiltern theater in Los Angeles in December 2022. Then nothing — until this week, almost a year later, when Mr. Slimane finally introduced its sequel: a video, posted online and filmed in the soaring main reading room of the Bibliothèque Nationale, the French national library, in Paris.

The setting, it turned out, was effectively a very fancy architectural metaphor for what Mr. Slimane has been doing with the brand. He is building a wardrobe library: one that can be used by a variety of women, even if Mr. Slimane insists on showing it on anemic looking waifs. It is one that has little to do with seasons and more to do with the story you want to tell at any given time. Come in, settle down, take out the look you want for the day. The video may have been entitled “Tomboy,” but it included an assortment of genres.

Maybe, for example, you’re feeling black and white existential androgyny — there’s a suit for that. Maybe 1990s grunge, in the form of sweats or athletic shorts and tank tops under bouclé jackets or lacy little slip dresses with beanie hats and boots.

Maybe you’re feeling more of a BCBG minimal vibe, in blazers and flared jeans and striped button-ups. Or perhaps a romance, in a long, lacy black gown. Maybe it’s a faux fur chubby or a La Princesse minidress bristling with gilded porcupine quills. Maybe you want the Cliffs Notes version, via accessories: dark shades, a chain bag, jolie madame pumps, big shearling boots on the lam from Courchevel.

None of this was particularly new, but that’s part of the point. It doesn’t really matter that Mr. Slimane hasn’t had a women’s show for a year because each new collection simply picks up where the last one left off. It’s like a serial writ in clothes or a reminder that it’s not so much our stories that change, but the way they are told and the context. We are all characters in our own fiction. Might as well have the tools to dress for it.

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