This September, it will have been a year since Hedi Slimane presented his first collection for the French fashion house Celine. As has been widely publicized, women around the world greatly lamented the departure of Phoebe Philo at the helm. Canadian communications creative Gabrielle Boucinha went as far as launching the Instagram account @OldCeline with the idea of storing all the images and inspiration she liked from Phoebe Philo's time at Céline. To date, @OldCeline has 264,000 followers, which includes many industry insiders such as designers, journalists, and editors.
Slimane not only replaced the British designer as creative director of the brand, he clearly communicated the delisting of Philo's legacy by erasing the accent on the house's name. The last time Slimane used language or grammar to mark a new era in a fashion house, it was at Saint Laurent, now led by Anthony Vaccarello.
"Phoebe Philo empowered women. She designed for the modern woman," says Boucinha in an interview for Refinery29. And while her point of view is valid, it does not mean that Slimane has stopped empowering women with his own creations, he simply designs for a woman very different than the Philo one. Here’s a look at the two women through the Big Five personality trait framework.
Hedi Slimane has a completely different interpretation of what the Celine/Céline woman aspires to. The Slimane woman is provocative with an air of freshness and eternal youth. With a high level of openness to experience, the Celine woman is a risk-taker and wears a variety of contrasting textures and colors. With traits such as insight, imagination and introspection, these women have a wide variety of interests such as art and travel to break up a mundane daily routine. Due to their intellectual curiosity, they tend towards aesthetic appreciation, but would achieve a low score on the trait of conscientiousness, with tendencies towards impulsivity, rebellion and recklessness.
Slimane has always stated that music is one of his greatest inspirations when creating his collections. He has collaborated with international rock stars, who make up the soundtrack for the mood of the shows, and serve as inspiration and model in his advertising campaigns. In psychology, it has also been shown that the Big Five personality traits correlate significantly with music preferences. Individuals with high levels of openness to experience prefer reflective and complex music (jazz, blues, classical), as well as intense and rebellious genres (rock, indie, heavy metal).
In terms of extraversion, the Celine woman reflects an average score. Her capacity for reflection makes her assertive and sure of herself. This type of woman does not need to be the center of attention because she knows how to effectively channel her energy in social contexts. She is open with people, but is usually independent. These characteristics are reflected in the collections that Slimane has presented for Celine. There are garments with dark tones that provide emotional protection, like black. Also Slimane usually presents pieces that invite conversation, many of them featuring adornments, textures or unique materials.
A Celine outfit usually has a medium to low degree of agreeableness. Slimane's lady is opinionated; she usually relies more on her own opinion than that of others. She wears her outfit as armor and protection when she feels vulnerable. Slimane's woman also usually varies in their degree of neuroticism and emotional stability, but prefers to experience greater intensity of emotions overall.
Phoebe Philo ran the Céline house for 10 years. While the fashion industry has been mainly run by men, Philo was one of the few women to run a successful house. Throughout Philo's tenure, her designs were often referred to as "feminist fashion." The British designer's departure occurred in the midst of the emergence of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, and although fashion isn’t always political, it is impossible not to relate what we wear to what happens in society at large.
Similar to the Slimane woman, the Philo woman tends to exhibit a high degree of openness. Although at first glance the Old Céline woman is seen in a minimalist ensemble, this was always made directional and elevated with silhouettes, textures, and materials.
Old Céline also tended to use irreverent colors such as red, yellow, orange, and blue, all in bright shades, contrasted with neutrals, subtly reflecting this woman’s personality: collected, optimistic, and strong.
With a medium-high degree of conscientiousness, the voluminous silhouette of Céline reflected a woman sure of herself. The women who wore or carried Philo’s Céline ensured that their looks embodied the intellectual, professional, tax-paying adult.
As for extraversion, the woman Céline showed an average degree. Philo’s were not super social clothes, although prints sometimes featured on scarves and coats. In general, this girl has a tight-knit group of friends, but also needs her alone time. She also correlates to a medium-high degree of agreeableness, preferring non-combative soft and neutral tones such as white, beige, and gray.
The Philo woman reflected high rates of emotional stability and low neuroticism. Having worked on her character, this woman turns away from busy, complex designs. For her, fashion is both a means of expression, but also a utilitarian medium.
Regardless of which house of Celine we identify with, we must recognize that although the Philo woman and the Slimane woman will express themselves differently through fashion, the two are still similar in some ways, especially in the qualities of high openness and moderate extraversion. Recall the basic principle of enclothed cognition: it depends on the symbolic meaning we give to our garments and the associated thoughts and feelings that occur during the physical experience of wearing it.