Look out, Gen Z, Celine’s Hedi Slimane is watching you. The temperamental designer unveiled his Summer 2021 women’s collection, which took the dress codes of the 7-22-year-old consumer group and whipped it up into expensive duds usually found in the back of moms closet and buy-by-the pound vintage stores. The brass at LVMH, possibly skeptic of the aesthetic, are undoubtedly pleased with the direction the collection and customer are heading for the 75-year-old French luxury mark. While thus far, Gen X tops annual fashion spending at an average of $2,300, Gen Z is an eager market with over $140 billion to spend, and brands are racing to catch them.
Thanks to the changes in fashion presentations due to the Coronavirus safety measures, Slimane chose to show both his men’s and women’s collection via video and “off-calendar,” or not in the regulated show dates of Paris fashion week. In July, the men’s collection hinted at what was to come as Slimane threw out the on-repeat 1970s Bourgeoise aesthetic. According to industry gossip, that direction came from the higher-ups after his first Celine collection debut in 2018 looked a bit too much like the aesthetic he was pushing at Saint Laurent, down to exact silhouettes.
LVMH may appreciate creativity and a designer vision, but their real goal is to push the product. The success that rival Kering-owned brand Gucci has been having, especially among Gen Z, must be particularly irksome. Whether this new direction aimed at the younger generation was a corporate directive or the result of Slimane’s time in quarantine remains to be seen.
The men’s collection, Dancing Kid, featured a specially mixed version of Tik Tok star and Canadian rapper Tiagz’ song “They call me Tiago,” which played as male models walked the loop on an empty Circuit du Castellet racetrack. The band of models referenced skate and grunge culture but also ironically due to the phonetic sound of the singer’s name, sequin tiger prints, and mullets was a clear nod to the Netflix show Tiger King that was trending during the height of the lockdowns.
According to show notes, his women took to a stadium in Monaco with a retractable ceiling, unrelated to the collection’s vision, where they walked to Princess Nokia’s sexually explicit song “I Like Him” in designer versions of teenage staples. Also, entitled Dancing Kid, this collection took the trickle-up theory of design to the nth degree. These girls like to mix it up. They might have raided their mothers and grandmothers closets but tossed out any rules associated with those clothes originally.
Hence, sneakers worn with sequin dresses and zip hoodies, tailored jackets, cropped or long bore big shoulders, were paired with grey fleece or denim shorts and the occasional fuzzy slippers. There were ample supplies of quilted