Hedi Slimane the Artistic Director of Céline in New York 2019 | Source: Getty Images

Building the French Wardrobe: The Defining Eras of Céline

Since its founding in 1945, luxury French label Céline has been reinvented and redefined by the brand’s series of talented creative directors. While it seems that everyone has a favourite Céline era, every creative director has brought something different to the brand’s style. Let’s take you back through some of the most defining eras for the French fashion brand.

The early years: Céline Vipiana

The namesake and matriarch of the brand, Céline Vipiana founded Céline with her husband in 1945. While the brand opened as a humble children’s shoe boutique, it soon expanded into women’s clothing and sportswear. Vipiana preferred making clothing that was more practical than frivolous, a sentiment that defines French style even today. By the 1970s, Céline had become an international brand and by 1987, Chairman and CEO of luxury conglomerate LVMH, Bernard Arnault bought the brand’s capital and all of its 89 stores. While Céline rapidly expanded during this time, Vipiana continued to be the designer until her death in 1997.

Image: A 1970’s Céline advertisement | Source: Pinterest
Image: Céline Vipiana | Source: Rebag

The revival: Michael Kors

After Céline Vipiana’s death, designer Michael Kors was made the brand’s first-ever creative director. Kors quickly brought the brand into the high fashion realm with his luxury ready-to-wear collections and glamorous designs. During this time, the label created everything from cashmere knits to slouchy pants and figure-hugging dresses. Kos remained in the role until 2004 when Céline hit a bump with its new creative directors. Both Roberto Manichetti and Ivana Omazic tried out the role, but neither could do it justice. This was until Phoebe Philo came along.

Image: Michael Kors Céline show | Source: Getty Images
Carolyn Murphy in Céline’s 98′ Campaign | Source: Courtesy Image

The golden years: Phoebe Philo

Phoebe Philo is often referenced as the saviour of Céline. In reality, she was even more than that. Philo completely redefined the label and set the standard for what we can expect from Céline today. Taking Vipiana’s original aesthetic to a new level, Philo designed women’s clothing that was chic, minimalist and empowering with sharp lines, perfect tailoring and a classy palette of neutrals. Philo made clothing that inspired women of all ages, notably casting 79-year-old Joan Didion in the 2015 Spring campaign.

Image: Pheobe Philo | Source: Pinterest
Image: 2015 Spring Campaign with literary great Joan Didion | Source: Céline
Image: 2010 Fall Campaign | Source: Céline

The modern era: Hedi Slimane

When Hedi Slimane took over as creative director of Céline, he had big shoes to fill. Dedicated Pheobe Philo fans were unhappy with Philo’s decision to leave and had already decided that Slimane was not up to the task. While Slimane takes a distinctly different Céline look to Philo, it was necessary for the brand’s continued growth. Favouring young and thin models, Slimane’s look is more punk than classic. Mixing elements of bourgeois society with Gen Z TikTok crazes, the designer is defiantly taking the brand forward. While some things are different, Hedi Slimane retains the very French view of all Céline creative directors, in that a timeless wardrobe starts with practical basics such as leather jackets, tailored pants and well-cut blazers.

Whichever Céline era you prefer, we’re excited to see where Slimane takes the brand next.

Image: Hedi Slimane | Source: Céline

Interested in the fashion greats? Read more about the lasting impact of Azzedine Alaïa, Cristobal Balenciaga and Valentino Garavani.

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