Hedi Slimane took his autumn/winter 2021 men’s collection for Celine to the rooftops of Château de Chambord, fusing streetwear with medieval glamour. Here, Vogue’s fashion critic Anders Christian Madsen brings you five things to know about Celine’s autumn/winter 2021 menswear collection.
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The invitation was a wax seal
A week before the launch of the Celine men’s collection, a small white box landed on the doorsteps of fashion’s virtual show-goers. Inside was a stick of golden wax and a seal stamp debossed with the house’s monogram, a set of mirrored Cs. Delivered by snail mail, without any details enclosed, it seemed like the antithesis to the digital overload that’s become our (sur)reality over the past year: a physical gesture tied to the human hand, and a symbol of an age when communication (and creation) called for consideration and time. In an era where everything is now a Zoom call and fashion is seen from a sofa, Celine’s medieval show—digital as it was—felt like Hedi Slimane’s love letter to the material world; signed, sealed, delivered.
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The collection was rock ‘n’ renaissance
Don’t mistake Slimane’s reflections for wistfulness, however. The lockdown period—which he has spent in his home near Saint Tropez—birthed his previous men’s collection devoted to e-boys and the colourful world of TikTok. Filmed atop the Château de Chambord, this season’s proposal was no less invigorating. But rather than taking inspiration from the youth and serving it back to them Celine style, this was Slimane bestowing new generations with an amazing piece of history—a lesson from the past to enrich their present—including his own. In a union you might call rock ‘n’ renaissance, he turned the roofline of the 16th century castle into the runway for his Teen Knight Poem, as he named the collection.
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It evoked a great Dior Homme collection
Led valiantly by stallions Goya and Evento and the cavalier Raoul—the son of friends of Slimane—the show opened with a procession of riders galloping towards the Château de Chambord carrying Celine flags. As a child, Slimane visited the Loire Valley stronghold. Its medieval magnificence would be imprinted in his mind forever. At Dior Homme, he designed autumn/winter 2003’s Luster—one of the best men’s collections ever created—fusing the codes of medieval armour with a neo-gothic take on the masculine sartorial silhouette he was revolutionising at the time. In many ways, this Celine collection was the present-day version of that same idea, imbued with the streetwear that has virtually replaced the suit twenty years on.
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It fused medieval armour with streetwear
This was a heroic wardrobe for a time of re-emergence: balaclavas fashioned in the memory of knightly helmets, white ruffs layered with medieval Cuban chains, and visors—as in the cap kind, not the ones used for jousting. The capes of crusaders morphed with hoodies, trousers and the lapels of blazers were rendered in chainmail, and the puffer jacket manifested as a modern-day armour, all polished and shiny and ready to face the post-pandemic world. Cutting a chivalrous silhouette, Slimane expanded his slender lines in boxy trousers and sloped shoulders delivered in check tailoring, which nodded at a Great British heritage no stranger to a castle setting. It culminated in a kilt. “Fond thoughts for the United Kingdom, which currently faces a great number of hardships,” as Slimane’s noted in his press material.
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The soundtrack was written by old friends
Because every knight needs a fanfare, Slimane’s original soundtrack was written and performed by The Loom, the group comprised of Jack and George Barrett. Formerly of These New Puritans, the brothers wrote the soundtrack for Slimane’s final show for Dior Homme in 2007, while George served as his fit model for that same collection. The connecting lines underscored the historical links between this collection and the designer’s own past. But rather than nostalgia, the Celine collection was an image of the things that make fashion great—showmanship, craftsmanship, human connection—and a reminder not to lose sight of those values in an increasingly digital age.
This article was originally published on British Vogue