Controversial designer Hedi Slimane takes over reins at Celine

Designer Hedi Slimane acknowledging the public at the end of the Saint Laurent Spring/Summer 2013 ready-to-wear collection show in Paris, France, on Oct 1, 2012.
Designer Hedi Slimane acknowledging the public at the end of the Saint Laurent Spring/Summer 2013 ready-to-wear collection show in Paris, France, on Oct 1, 2012. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (NYTimes) - Hedi Slimane, one of the most successful but also controversial designers of his generation, will be the new artistic, creative and image director of Celine, the luxury giant LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton announced on Sunday.

He will control all aspects of the collections and the brand's image, including advertising campaigns and store design. He will introduce a men's collection and work on fragrance as well as fashion and accessories.

The move is a return home of sorts for Slimane, 49, who began his career at Yves Saint Laurent and was hired by LVMH in 2000 to create Dior Homme, where his pin-thin jeans and sharp tailoring became the stuff of men's (and some women's) obsessions.

He left Dior Homme in 2007 and returned to Yves Saint Laurent, owned by LVMH's rival Kering, as creative and image director in 2012.

The appointment also signifies a potential major shift in direction for Celine, where the former designer, Phoebe Philo, 45, became a hero to fashionable women for her emphasis on clothes for working women like herself.

Slimane's history suggests the change may be partly a play on the part of LVMH for that great intangible "cool" and the younger, often millennial customers who desire it.

At Saint Laurent, he became famous for collections seemingly aimed at the young and the fretless, including the musicians, models and hangers-on he met in Los Angeles, where he made his home and where he relocated the Saint Laurent studio.

The result delighted customers - Slimane's Saint Laurent sold well - but frustrated some critics with its unwavering commitment to a narrowly defined rock look.

Slimane left the company in 2016.

LVMH is understood to be putting its full support behind Slimane.

Indeed, his return is part of an ambitious plan to expand Celine, which now has an annual turnover of slightly less than one billion euros (S$1.62 billion) - midsized by LVMH brand standards - into a Dior-size brand.

Like his Saint Laurent studio, Slimane's Celine studio will be based in Los Angeles, with a prototype studio and an atelier in Paris. His first show, which will combine womenswear and menswear, will be held in September.