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Hedi Slimane’s Celine: What Comes After Y2K Fashion?

Fashion’s torch bearer for skinny pants and rock music pleaded his case to do it all again (the 2000s, that is) at a Paris menswear happening.
A model walks the runway for Celine Autumn/Winter 2023.
A model walks the runway for Celine Autumn/Winter 2023. (Getty Images)

PARIS — Catherine Deneuve loves Pete Doherty’s dog — that’s news. Hedi Slimane loves skinny pants — that isn’t.

But as our culture’s obsession with thin bodies goes into overdrive, and as fashion looks for where to go next after recent seasons’ late 90s and Y2K obsession, I couldn’t help but wonder: is the slim silhouette championed by Celine’s creative director poised to achieve new relevance?

Slimane’s December womenswear show in L.A. had suggested that, to whatever extent the designer can still drive the fashion agenda, 2005 had returned. With tiny pants and big handbags, booties, cravates and paillettes, Celine made a case for the return of indie sleaze.

At the show’s menswear sequel at Paris’ iconic Palace club Friday, Slimane continued to plead that case by digging into the codes of his boom years at Dior Homme from 2000 to 2007 — where his signature ultra-skinny pants with flared ankles had helped transform the heritage house into a men’s fashion leader.

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Since then, Slimane has rarely pulled back from beating the drum for slim silhouettes, especially in the menswear arena where his approach is most uncompromising. The kitschy 2000s time capsules seen on his L.A. womenswear runway stood in contrast to previous seasons that explored new aesthetic horizons — from Parisienne neo-bourgeois wardrobe dressing to Gen-Z-inspired remixes of athleisure and prep.

Celine’s Paris menswear collection, however, was hardly a departure from recent seasons.

The return of his Dior-era skinny-flare pants (this time in leather) was interspersed with carry-over themes like pinstripe suits, bedazzled bombers and band-leader coats.

Still, Slimane commanded guests’ attention by contextualising the clothes in an immersive rock experience—celebrating a genre which has been largely missing in fashion of late. The youth of Paris’ techno club scene, scions of parent company LVMH (controlled by the world’s richest family), Jane Birkin and Deneuve collided with the glitterati of London rock. Performances by The Murder Capital and The Libertines asked the question of whether rock was really as dead as the fashion industry’s embrace of electronic and rap acts like Arca, Skepta, Doja Cat and Kendrick Lamar would have you believe.

I, for one, found myself bellowing the White Stripes in my kitchen a few days before without explanation, having not thought about Jack White or the jagged, greasy haircuts of his devotees in years. Something may be in the air. Other curious (if a bit lost) parties from the fashion circuit lingered around the after-show with open eyes and ears, perhaps investigating that same question.

And Celine’s recent commercial success —LVMH confirmed in January that the brand had crossed the threshold of 2 billion euros in annual sales — means Slimane has marketing budget heft to keep pushing the idea.

Back to what I was saying about skinny bodies: even if the indie-rock moment that surrounded early 2000s fashion does trickle back into the zeitgeist, it’s unclear how the era’s fashion codes would look on bulked-up millennial Crossfit bodies — or adapt to the lifestyles of post-pandemic consumers who are used to spending unprecedented hours in their baggy sheaths bouncing between home, the gym and co-working cafes.

Just as fashion companies had to push for years to get customers to move on from skinny jeans, I imagine most clients today won’t give up their oversized silhouettes without a fight.

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But runway fashion is so often about showing us something we aren’t quite ready for, and recent months have also seen an undeniable (if deplorable) exaltation of all things thin. From Kim Kardashian boasting about her pre-Met Gala crash diet, to relentless discourse about weight loss injections and face-slimming procedures on TikTok and The Cut, a hoped-for shift to body-positivity and self-acceptance at any size appears to have stalled.

It’s hard to say if the time for rock music and skinny jeans is really back — but there’s something in the air.

Disclosure: LVMH is part of a group of investors who, together, hold a minority interest in The Business of Fashion. All investors have signed shareholder’s documentation guaranteeing BoF’s complete editorial independence.

Further Reading

How Hedi Slimane Doubled Celine Sales

The brand, which has surpassed €2 billion in annual revenue, celebrated its momentum with a fashion show-meets-concert in Los Angeles, where the biggest rock star was arguably the designer.

Is Hedi Slimane’s Celine Working?

LVMH’s mission to turn Celine into a multi-billion dollar business got off to a rocky start, but there are signs the brand may be turning a corner.

About the author
Robert Williams
Robert Williams

Robert Williams is Luxury Editor at the Business of Fashion. He is based in Paris and drives BoF’s coverage of the dynamic luxury fashion sector.

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