What The Founder Of @OldCeline Thinks About Hedi Slimane's New Vision

Between Chanel's beach-themed extravaganza and Saint Laurent sending its models down a runway covered in water, there was no shortage of moments from Paris Fashion Week (and Fashion Month as a whole) that had us holding the "record" button on Instagram Stories. But if there was one moment that truly had people talking, it was Hedi Slimane's debut at Celine.
After Slimane's first collection, many members of the fashion community were mourning the end of an era — the Phoebe Philo era. It was only a matter of time, then, before someone found a way to immortalise the designer's iconic tenure at Céline.
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Toronto-based Gabrielle Boucinha launched Instagram account @oldceline in early September. Since then, Boucinha, who graduated in the spring from Ryerson University and aspires to work in fashion editorial, has gained a loyal following of fashion insiders (as of publishing time, it had over 55,000 followers and counting). The account, which is an ode to the creative director's time at the iconic French house, couldn't have come at a better time, as bloggers and publications shared their (often emotional, offended, frustrated) thoughts in book-long Instagram stories and captions, and even posting photos of their favourite Phoebe Philo pieces. Before we knew it, we saw the likes of Pernille Teisbaek and Nasiba Adilova tagging @oldceline, and it became a way for all of us processing this drastic change to come together. It highlights a singular, shared respect for what Céline once was — and is no longer.
Below, we caught up with Boucinha to talk about the most timely new Instagram account of fashion month and the end of Céline as we know it.
When did you start the account @oldceline?
"I launched the account on September 3, at the start of fashion month, and the following has grown rapidly since then. It was crazy to see so many of my favourite people in fashion following the account, from Virgil Abloh and Tommy Ton to Julie Pelipas, Camille Charriere, Pernille Teisbaek, Ezra Petronio, and Leandra Medine. I really want to work in editorial, so seeing my favourite writers and editors tagging and following the account was pretty special."
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Can you tell us a bit more about why you started the account and the thinking behind it?
"For me, it was somewhat of a place to store all the images and inspirations that I love from Phoebe's time at Céline. I just wanted to start to get everything all in one place. I didn’t think the following would have grown into what it's at today — I just set out to do it for personal reasons — but now I’m very excited about what I can do with this platform!"
What exactly did you love about Phoebe Philo?
"It may seem drastic, but I like to compare Phoebe Philo to Gabrielle Chanel. In my eyes, she's actually even better. Phoebe Philo empowered women, turning Céline into one of the most coveted labels.
"I had the Joan Didion campaign pages pinned above my desk during school; that campaign might be what inspired me most to ensure that I’m always pushing myself to think outside the box, and to one day use fashion to make a positive change. Phoebe changed the meaning of the word 'chic' and proved that an interest in fashion does not lower one's intelligence or keep her from having other interests. She designed for the modern woman.
"Phoebe’s Céline was all about being confident, strong, proud, and powerful. You can apply that ethos to everything in life, and I think Phoebe’s Céline had this empowering culture behind it. Her version of Céline promoted a less is more approach, and the idea of empowerment through natural beauty. It was very liberating to see a fashion house present women with what they actually want to wear. We don't want to wear a tight sequinned mini dress. We want to wear a dragging-on-the-floor dress with sneakers. At least, I do. She challenged the meaning of sexy. Her combination of masculine and feminine designs that shouted female empowerment was truly iconic."
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What is your vision for the Instagram account?
"I am almost done creating the website oldceline.com, where I’ll be posting the merch collection I’ve been working on. I’m very excited for it to be completed! I’d also love to sell secondhand Céline from the Phoebe era as well."
What are your thoughts on Hedi Slimane?
"He is a talented designer, of course. But Hedi has a very specific dark, rock and roll aesthetic. I don’t think it’s innovative to carry the same 'look' to another house, and especially not Céline. The pieces from his debut collection at Celine exactly mirrored some from his last collection at Saint Laurent. Where's the creativity?
"I was disappointed by his first collection, but nothing he did was surprising. It's not that I ever thought he could replace or live up to Phoebe, but this collection was the opposite of everything that the brand has stood for up until this point. These new designs don't even compare when looked at next to images of Phoebe's collections, which were strong, powerful, and beautiful with minimal effort. They were for women dressed for themselves and no one else (unlike Hedi's new pieces which still seem to dress women, well, for men)."
What do you hope for the future of your account — and for the future of Celine?
"I hope the future of the account provides a platform for all Philophiles worldwide to celebrate what we had with the old Céline. I don’t think there has been this level of backlash in a while, even despite how often creative changes happen in fashion. Old Céline had such loyal customers because it was truly unique and progressive and was exactly what fashion (and the world in general) needed. It’s not even about Hedi. It’s about what women wanted, and now have collectively lost."
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