If anyone is the master of building a brand, it is Hedi Slimane: the notoriously recalcitrant designer who understands the power of a meticulously-managed image. So, when his longtime champion Lady Gaga emerged last night, proudly brandishing his first design forCéline – a boxy black leather handbag with minimal gold hardware – we can certainly assume that it was the start of a carefully constructed strategy. While the French house has declined to comment, today she published a series of pictures starring the bag which, if you enthusiastically employ the zoom capabilities of your phone, appears printed with the house logo.
Back in 2012, Gaga was the first to wear Slimane’s designs for his acclaimed reinvention of Saint Laurent – and now, by teaming his handbag first with a vintage Alaïa leather trench, then with orange bodycon, she is presenting a laser-focused vision of dominatrix-inflected glamour which marries perfectly with his renowned declaration that “fashion = music + youth + sex.” That sentiment is, of course, distinctly different to Phoebe Philo‘s quietly instinctive vision of femininity – and Slimane’s debut for the house is sure to present a radical departure from the aesthetic she established there. While his October show remains enshrouded in mystery (which is, of course, just how he likes it), we can rest assured that it will be the start of a radical new chapter for the house which, under his direction, will evolve to incorporate menswear, couture and fragrance. It’s a smart move: these sorts of glimpses into its offering are the sort of thing that have his diehard devotees gagging for more.