Celine Homme winter 2021: Teen Knight Poem in Chambord Chateau
Just when the first chill winds of schadenfreude and acidic remarks were starting to be made about Hedi Slimane’s tenure at Celine, along came the creative director to silence his doubters with a brilliant show video and couture teen-rebel collection.
Monday lunchtime, Slimane unveiled his latest fashion ideas for Celine Homme via e-invite; still photos, intriguing teasers and dramatic video of the house’s Fall/Winter 2021 collection, captured with gusto and gallantry in the Loire Valley Chateau of Chambord.
Entitled Teen Knight Poem, the collection felt like a downtown Game of Thrones after-party, or make that Game of Drones, as the camera soared and dived across the battlements of the fabled chateau, built but never completed in the early 1500s by Francis I of France, the patron-of-the-arts king who acquired the Mona Lisa from Leonardo da Vinci.
Curly-haired youth marching around the chateau’s famed roofscape with its 11 different style of towers, cupolas, gables, lanterns and chimneys; or at the finale, riding black horses across the grounds of the giant chateau, the largest in the Loire. A building so massive, Louis XIV later installed a 1,200-horse stable in Chambord.
This January, Celine skipped the catwalks at this season’s Paris menswear season, and instead Slimane took a gang of UK hipsters with him to the Loire, to riff on 16th-century royal court attire and in particular portraits of Francis I. The king would surely have enjoyed the brilliant youthful and inclusive casting; after all, Francis was proficient in Hebrew, Spanish, Italian, Latin and his native French.
Tellingly in this homage to Francis, whose famed diplomatic dance with England’s Henry VIII is the subject of multiple feature films, Hedi’s heroes were British – Jack and George Barnett, whom the designer met back in 2006, at the time when they were members of the New Puritans. Their new band, The Loom, provided the show soundtrack, blending in a French military drum tattoo which Hedi had sent them, with spoken rather than sung lyrics.
“Youth parade and renaissance. 'Nouveau Romantic.' Living again the sense of being reborn. Youth reinvents itself in the game and imaginary codes of new identities. Armored silhouettes and chivalry,” explained the Celine creative director in his release.
This season, the John Snow de la mode whipped up oversized leather blousons finished with multiple chains hanging from collar, sleeve and chest, or fab courtiers' couture-worthy jackets made in dense layers of gold, black and silver sequins. From their ears dangled chains and heraldic fleur-de-lys – Clovis couture; over their heads, knights' masks in ribbed wool, studded to read 'Celine'.
His Baratheon boys looking suitably romantic in ruffle-neck dueling shirts; or studded sleeveless leather vests worn over sleeveless denim jackets and hoodies – cantering on fine steeds in black jeans and riding boots. Other denim looks sported the word 'Strange' in hand-cut embroidered letters. While for more tailored moments, a black prince strode by proudly in ruffled black shirt; hefty chain necklace and precision cut black cashmere caban with satin tuxedo lapels.
Slimane had carefully orchestrated the event – last week delivering selected editors a small stick of golden sealing wax and an official Celine double stamp. Then today sending out a sleekly prepared compendium of still shots, video link and teasers. One 14-second teaser starring a black stallion shot in close-up, with multi-stud bridle and Gothic lettering, even of the brand name; another featuring the brand name in large metallic letters inside a royal forest, with an eagle perched on the capital 'E'.
Though the heart of the matter was his great video – available for all on YouTube – a timely counterblast to the cynics that were already penning the first lines of Hedi’s career obituary.
Francis, who became king aged just 20 and ruled for over three decades, gets a hard time from French historians, and is often interpreted as a playboy ruler, whose wars led to little territorial gain for France. He was even captured in battle in Pavia, south of Milan in 1525, the ultimate humiliation for a French king. Indeed, the film often captures close-up of the young cast in tears.
However, Francis was also an exceptional patron of the arts, who laid the foundations of the art collection of the Louvre, and built several magnificent chateaux, like Chambord. Which Slimane visited as a boy, and which today inspired the best show of the virtual menswear European season, which felt like it finally climaxed with Celine in Chambord.
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