What a difference a season makes. That was the big takeaway from the Celine fall and winter 2019 women’s runway show here Friday night, the sophomore one with Hedi Slimane at the creative helm. Before dialing down into what it was, let’s get out of the way what it most definitely was not: Saint Laurent 2.0, old wine in new bottles, an Hedi Slimane wolf in a Celine sheep’s clothing — or whatever other snarky comparative cliché one cares to trot out. And, aesthetically speaking, it didn’t feel at all like a follow-up to last season’s debut.
(It also didn’t include the menswear component, which was shown in January during the Paris run of men’s shows.)
If that collection was “Paris by Night,” then this one might aptly be called “London by Day,” a color palette of British beiges, a plethora of plaids and pleats, pinstripes, houndstooth checks and pinstripes plucked from men’s suiting and lots and lots of culottes — plaid culottes, herringbone culottes, faded denim culottes and leather culottes among them. (Plaids and checks are certainly getting their time in the runway sun this season, other labels saying “checks please!” include Dior and Lanvin.)
The collection was also noticeably heavy on the shearling pieces including coats, floor-length vests, immense wraps (if one was going to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing, that would be the go-to piece) and a bumper crop of over-the-knee boots with the puffs of wool peeking out of the tops high enough to cushion a patellar blow.
There were traditionally Slimanian flourishes throughout, to be sure, a pussy bow here, a cascade of ruffles at the neck there, and a smattering of gold-sequined cardigans, glitter-dusted cable-knit sweaters, snakeskin-textured handbags and buttery leather dresses with gold-chain hardware.
For us, the standout looks were the simplest ones; a gray turtleneck sweater paired with faded jeans and a pair of shearling-lined over-the-knee boots, with a camel-colored cape thrown over top and held in place with a simple chunky chain (ten links long at the most) across the clavicle was one; a gray, pleated knee-length skirt and brown sweater ensemble worn under a navy blue varsity jacket (with Celine embroidered over the left breast) was another.
The chain and chain-link motif cropped up frequently throughout the collection, in addition to the actual hardware, which, in addition to the aforementioned cape and dress, included a belt buckle with a “C” logo; there was a stylized chain-link print that made its way into dresses and silk scarves knotted at the neck. You might be surprised to find out that the chain print is actually from the ’70s-era Celine archives.