Since its September 2018 creation, @oldceline has amassed an audience of 209,000. I’m impressed by the account’s quick rise to IG fame, but not the least bit surprised. I watched as fashion fans and industry insiders collectively mourned former Creative Director Phoebe Philo’s departure from then known as Céline after ten years at its helm in late 2017, and not long after, were outraged over replacement Hedi Slimane’s debut collection for…sans accent mark, Celine.
The brand’s SS19 Paris runway showcased the sexualized, monochromic rock n’ roll aesthetic Slimane has maintained throughout his career. On the collection, Tim Blanks wrote for Business of Fashion, “A brand that was once thoroughly identified with a peerless instinct for what women want in fashion all of a sudden looked like a gust of toxic masculinity.” Over the course of 96 looks, Slimane abandoned the feminine, thoughtful, and effortless Celine that Philo had spent the past decade developing and instead showed what was seemed to be an encore from his Saint Laurent days.
Fashion journalists, bloggers, and Philophiles responded by penning articles and posting tweets criticizing the collection. Toronto-based Gabrielle Boucinha, however, took a very millennial approach to the loss of Philo’s influence. She founded @oldceline, an archive and tribute to the Celine of 2008 - 2018.
@oldceline posts photos and videos of Celine clothes, shows, and campaigns. One pic shows Joan Didion decked out in huge black sunglasses, shot by Juergen Teller for a 2015 ad campaign. A few of the images were sourced and saved from the official Celine account before Slimane purged it to start anew. In an interview with CR, Boucinha explained her reason for creating the account, "I’ve had a large collection of campaigns and photos from the [Celine] shows that I’ve always been saving. When they announced that Hedi was taking over, I really wanted to start something where everything could be in one place.”
Archiving fashion with Instagram isn’t a new concept — it’s been done with everything from slogan t-shirts to outfits worn on Sex And The City — but @oldceline carries new weight. It immortalizes Philo’s Celine, then takes it a step further by presenting it and giving refuge to a community of people (209k, to be exact) that disagree with Slimane’s vision for the brand and want to revive the Celine they once knew, or at the very least, retain some semblance of its values.
Women’s fashion has had many brands directed and collections designed by men that are great successes, sell well, and do justice to the women that bought them. Slimane, on the other hand, missed the mark completely and doesn’t seem to be the least bit sorry about it. The controversy surrounding his direction of Celine is a warning shot to the industry of what can occur when men are in charge of womenswear labels - the imposition of an obtrusive male gaze. Thankfully, @oldceline is reminding us now and moving forward that there was once a Celine both for and about empowered women.