Slimane Causes Online Uproar in China Ahead of Celine’s Paris Show

Hedi Slimane’s debut at Celine’s runway show, which takes place this Friday, September 28, is one of the most anticipated events of the ongoing Paris Fashion Week. In China, a country full of outspoken, loyal fans of Celine’s former designer Phoebe Philo, two recently-released Celine handbags designed by Slimane have met serious backlash on social media.

A topic called “Celine designer[’s design] is stifling” (#Celine设计师令人窒息#) has started to trend on Sina Weibo since the evening of September 25.

A topic called “Celine designer[’s design] is stifling” (#Celine设计师令人窒息#) has started to trend on Sina Weibo since the evening of September 25.

Since the evening of September 25, a topic called “Celine designer[’s design] is stifling” (#Celine设计师令人窒息#) has started to trend on Sina Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter. By the time of this publication, it is the second most popular trending topic on the platform, attracting over three million views and 1,000 comments.

Obviously, it is Celine’s two new handbags “LE 16” and Monogram “C”, that were revealed on the brand’s Instagram, that have made Chinese consumers feel stifled.

Dipsy, a Chinese fashion blogger with over six million followers on Weibo, posted an image of the Monogram “C” handbag and wrote that “the new Celine is mysterious.” His remark has caught the attention of users who have similar opinions.

A Weibo user called “JT-baby” said this is from “Saint Celinel”–a combination of Saint Laurent, Celine, and Chanel. Others echoed that they could see a mix of signature designs from big-name brands like Tod’s, Salvatore Ferragamo and others in this bag.

FashionModels, another fashion blogger with nearly 6.5 million followers, said the Monogram “C” handbag looked like the Chanel bag that was copied by Michael Kors, and “it is even more interesting that Michael Kors used to be the creative director of Celine during the brand’s NBCS (nobody cares) era.”

The central reason for Weibo users’ disappointment and dissatisfaction is the complete loss of character from the old Céline by Phoebe Philo. When the brand decided to remove the accent above the “e” from the logo before, it also sparked strong opposition in the country. But does that really mean the new Celine has already lost its chance with Chinese consumers?

Probably not, argued another Weibo user called “taorenhao,” “Hedi Slimane is [probably] not good at designing handbags but absolutely knows how to generate buzz and how to turn the buzz into sales. Even though the bags are ugly, I believe there will still be people who are willing to purchase it.”

In a rare interview with the French newspaper Le Figaro, Slimane said, “You don’t shake things up by avoiding making waves. When there is no debate, it means there is no opinion—the definition of blind conformity.”

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