Following his much-remarked Teen Knight Poem menswear show at Château de Chambord in February, Celine Artistic, Creative and Image director Hedi Slimane continued his poetic and history-infused escapades with a Fall-Winter 2021 women’s show entitled Parade in the gardens of Chateau de Vaux-Le-Vicomte. Inspired by poets Baudelaire, Rimbaud and Verlaine, Hedi Slimane gave palpable voice to youth marked by melancholy and creativity.

Released on April 14 on the Celine website and Instagram account, Hedi Slimane’s latest fashion show took its name from Rimbaud’s poem “Parade”, part of the Illuminations collection. “I alone have the key to this savage parade,” the poet concludes in an ultimate pirouette. In tribute to the poet and eternal adolescent, Hedi Slimane welcomes introspection for his latest collection: “Must we break the rules in order to live our youth? An utopian parade and melancholic daydream of youth interrupted.” The backdrop of the breathtaking French gardens designed by André Le Nôtre in the 17th century afforded perfect perspective and enchanting harmony that lent special brilliance to the new Celine collection.

Amidst the crucible of a French style embodied by Vaux le Vicomte, Hedi Slimane proposed contemporary silhouettes that were not as staid as they might seem at first glance. Classic elegance is appropriated in couture blazers, blouses with pleated collars and flower print skirts. Impeccably cut jeans and skin-revealing asymmetric crop tops embody simplicity, joined by oversize turtleneck sweaters or sweatshirts matched to grey skies. Celine women walked through the gardens with nature as the ultimate refuge for their adolescent feelings. Sequins embroidered on dresses echoed the scintillating water basins, while gold buttons on military-style tunics or the links in handbag chains replied to gilded fountains. To accompany the wintry parade, an array of parkas, camouflage puffers and denim or sheepskin blousons offered warmth over bared legs. Feminine flirts with masculine in both accessories like baseball hats or shoes and boots, as well as the oversize volumes and wide shoulders.

The original soundtrack for the show was commissioned by and co-produced by Hedi Slimane, making the Winter 2021 parade less a military procession than an electro show. With lyrics that channel Baudelaire and Rimbaud, the song “Un Daydream” was sung by artist and musician Regina Demina, who also co-wrote and co-produced it with Charles Caste. The piece was accompanied by harpist Léonie Favre-Tissot. The event was shot from the afternoon light to nightfall, creating a crepuscular atmosphere as the black and white of statues alternates with a palette of restful hues. The ambiance recalls a line in Paul Verlaine’s poem “My Familiar Dream”, “the look she gave, a statue’s sightless stare.” Closing the show, the final look seemed to step out of a fairy tale, a glittering hand-beaded crinoline skirt the “color of the sun”, revisiting 19th century crinoline gowns. Like an echo to Baudelaire’s poem “The Enemy” (another adolescent angst anthem) – “My youth was but a dark-aired hurricane, pierced by an eye of sun from time to time” – the final fireworks display above the château felt not like an artificial paradise, but rather rays of hope that the party will once again burst to life and with it, youth.

© Celine