Celine Takes Over The Wiltern in Los Angeles, Bringing Back ‘Age of Indieness’
Inside Los Angeles’ Art Deco landmark, Celine brings out another whammy of 2000’s nostalgia with a collection that’s equal parts indie sleaze and silver-screen glam. Here’s how the show unfurled.
Photography: Courtesy of CELINE
Standing at the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue, it’s hard not to notice The Wiltern, with its emblematic terra cotta façade. It’s even harder not to feel towered by it — especially on a day like tonight. The 12-story cloud-scratcher is poised serenely, fenced off and patrolled by security guards, and a crowd has gathered just outside of it. What’s the fuss about, you ask? Just look at the brightly lit marquee over the entrance, and you’ll see it spelled out in black letters: CELINE.
The news has been circulating for a while. Celine announced it was planning to present its Winter ’23 collection in Southern California, following the footsteps of other luxury giants like Ralph Lauren, Gucci, Dior and Louis Vuitton, which took over the Salk’s Institute in San Diego. If these shows prove anything, it’s this: There’s a heightened interest in our state, and it’s continuing to come at us very fast.
But is it really a surprise that Hedi Slimane, Celine’s creative, artistic, and image director, picked Los Angeles? Not really. Hailing from France, Slimane — a photographer-turned-designer — has always had a connection to this part of the state, and a strong one at that. Slimane lived in Los Angeles for close to a decade; the city played the secondary role of muse and model in much of Slimane’s work, in photography and beyond. Even though Slimane sold his house in 2018, it’s clear that the City of Angels still maintains a grip on his imagination. Because here he is in Los Angeles again, making fashion headlines.
The Wiltern seems like the perfect fit for the event. For close to a century, the building has been a neighborhood cornerstone, its name a portmanteau of Wilshire and Western, the two streets it straddles. Opened as a movie theater, the building was almost under the threat of demolition in the late ‘70s — almost. Conservationists put their feet down, and the Wiltern was saved. Since then, the green terra-cotta gem has been functioning as a performance venue, and over the course of its long life, it has hosted the likes of Prince, Frank Ocean, Nina Simone, The Rolling Stones, The Strokes, and Patti Smith, to name a few.
In short, not only is the building emblematic of the city, it’s also such an important place for music in Los Angeles — and music has always been integral to Slimane’s work. So, yes, The Wiltern is an appropriate backdrop. With its etched gold “sunburst” ceiling and lavish interior, its auditorium begs for a good show. And by the looks of it, this will be one for the books.
Ready to Rock ‘N’ Roll
With The White Stripes’ “Hello Operator” on the soundtrack (produced for Celine), a time capsule is opened. The first model is out, clad in a gold-button coat and tunic top, draped over pencil-thin black pants and paired with knee-high boots. Seeing this feels like visiting an old friend. The whole look pulses with familiarity: the loosely worn scarf, the long, tiered necklace, the inexplicable layering. Is Slimane bringing out another whammy of 2000’s nostalgia?
Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen a lot of staples from the early aughts, regurgitated into a cool, new-but-nostalgic aesthetic. I’ve written a great deal about low-slung pants and itty-bitty crop tops, so it was only a matter of time till I’d find myself rehashing another relic from my teenage years — one that’s a little darker, a little grimier. Remember that time? The time when Myspace and flash photography were all the rage? When what we wore was heavily influenced by what we listened to? (Looking at you, Paramore.) Yes, I’m talking about “indie sleaze,” which is making a not-so-surprising comeback — and Slimane is better equipped than most to disturb its sleep.
Dubbed “Age of Indieness,” Celine’s retelling of the mid-’00s indie sleaze chapter is, well, a lot less sleazy and a lot more elevated, with a seriously offhand, boho-chic treatment. Skinny jeans (yes, those again) are tucked into knee-high boots, thin silk scarves are worn with shrunken jackets, and belts are slung low over dresses. Oversized handbags weigh down the arms of models as they make their way down the runway. Stacked, golden-chain necklaces are heavily featured throughout, and eyeliners are black, smudged and Lavigne-esque.
Celine reminisces over more mid-aughts trends like sparkly jackets, faux fur and lots of leather.
Everything heightens before the show draws to a close. The finale introduces a lineup that’s less hipster-glam and more just “glam.” Models glide up the stage, dripping in sumptuous sequins and shimmer. Gold and silver evening dresses are pared back with minimalist silhouettes but take-your-breath-away slinkiness and gilded glamor.
For me, the collection brought back very vivid, very visceral memories of middle and high school, back when I sported side-swept bangs and watched Gossip Girl on repeat. It was a period of time when most millennials were coming into our own, making fashion choices that were questionable and felt more like streams of consciousness rather than deliberate decisions. Purely on taste grounds, a lot will argue that some eras — the mid-aughts especially — are better forgotten. But Slimane proves otherwise, and very convincingly so.
Photography: Courtesy of CELINE
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