Hedi Slimane is sparing no words in his response to critics of his debut at Celine (previously Céline). In an extensive statement e-mailed to the French fashion journalist Loïc Prigent, Slimane weighed in on everything from the controversy over his hiring at the fashion house, previously helmed by Phoebe Philo, to the less-than-enthused response from certain circles to his runway show at Paris Fashion Week last month.
“I always feel like people are talking about someone else,” Slimane began, per WWD, adding that he had “already been through this at Saint Laurent.” (And Hedi’s going to continue to do Hedi, even to his detriment: After all, ahead of the show, he told Le Figaro, in French, translated to English by Business of Fashion, “I stand firm for my principles. Why should I give up on what defines me?”)
Here, we break down how he pushed back against everything from accusations of misogyny in his collection to the widely felt disappointment that a man—especially one with such a defined blueprint that was such a contrast to the brand’s existing aesthetic—succeeded as beloved a woman creative director as Philo.
In response to criticism, generally speaking: “You’re dealing with politics, conflicts of interest, cliques, a predictable attitude, but also staggering exaggerations of conservatism and puritanism,” he wrote. “Violence is a reflection of our time – the rabble-rousing spirit of social networks, despite the fact that they are a formidable community tool. There are no longer any limits, hatred is amplified and takes over.”
In response to comparisons to Trump, and accusations that his scant, waifish silhouettes had misogynist undertones: “Does this mean women are no longer free to wear miniskirts if they wish? The comparisons to Trump are opportunistic, rather bold and fairly comical, just because the young women in my show are liberated and carefree. They are free to dress as they see fit.”
In response to the surprise that he was selected to succeed Phoebe Philo: “For some in America, I also have the poor taste of being a man who is succeeding a woman. You could read into that a subtext of latent homophobia that is quite surprising. Is a man drawing women’s collections an issue?”
And this was just the beginning—Prigent promised a more extensive excerpt of their conversation would be featured on his television show in the coming week. Anyway, for all that Slimane’s debut collection was panned online, at least his boss is happy. As WWD also reported, Prigent asked the LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault what he thought of the show. “I loved it!” Arnault responded.