The legion of admirers that Céline had amassed have been both angry and sad, in the course of Phoebe Philo’s decade-long tenure (2008-2018) at the house coming to an end. From her exit to the appointment of Hedi Slimane at (now) Celine, it has not been smooth sailing for the brand. The frenzy began when Celine wiped out its entire pre-Slimane content on Instagram, followed with the removal of the accent aigu (fans promptly began drawing it back on Celine posters). Céline loyalists from around the world actively shared their disappointment on Instagram for months after the SS19 collection released, or what Slimane terms “Celine 01”.
Philo condemned the male gaze; earnest that women have autonomy and agency in all spheres of their lives, including the clothes they choose to wear. The scale of backlash, uncommon in the world of fashion, attests to Philo’s vision that appealed to women from different walks of life. Céline was a lifestyle, it was about confidence, natural beauty, intelligence and effortless sophistication; traits that are timeless and uninterrupted by the transience of trends or fads. It encouraged, even celebrated, the idea of being quietly impactful and not feeling the need to seek external validation.
At a time when innumerable brands exist and roll out multiple collections season after season, Céline developed its unique identity and point of view thus achieving something special; it evoked an emotional response in its fan base. Nostalgia is a powerful trigger, rendering it impossible to forget Philo’s invaluable contribution and her legacy. It was precisely this sentiment that made 22-year-old Gabrielle Boucinha launch her instagram account @oldceline, stemming from her desire to pay tribute to the brand and create a sanctuary of Philo-era Céline content. The account has a robust 1,53, 000 followers (and rapidly growing), including the likes of Leandra Medine and Virgil Abloh.
We chatted with Boucinha to talk more about Old Céline and what lies ahead.
Q) Tell us about yourself.
I was born and raised just outside of Toronto. I graduated this April with a Bachelor of Design in Fashion Communication from Ryerson University. In fashion, Phoebe Philo at Céline has been one of my largest creative inspirations.
Q) What appealed the most to you about Phoebe Philo’s Céline? How did her vision make you feel?
The old Céline woman was strong, powerful and beautiful without trying, which is what made old Céline so impactful. It had always been about natural beauty, less is more, and female empowerment which has always been important but is even more so now. There is a very political side to it which proves it’s not just about the fashion.
Q) What were the thoughts running through your mind when you conceptualised the idea of Old Céline? What motivated you and what did you hope to achieve?
I started the account on September 3rd this year. I was motivated by the task of creating a platform that showcases Phoebe’s work at Céline this past decade – I’m hoping to create a brand that celebrates old Céline.
Q) What has feedback been like?
There has been a lot of feedback from people who were equally as inspired by old Céline and everything that Phoebe contributed to the industry.
Q)Did you anticipate Hedi Slimane’s rebranding of Céline to be a polar anti-thesis of its predecessor and were you surprised with the backlash that continues to this day?
I did anticipate Slimane’s rebranding of Céline to be similar to what he did with YSL and Saint Laurent Paris. The interesting factor is that we see designers and creative directors move houses often – however – we haven’t really seen a backlash for a switch in creative direction quite like what we have seen with old Céline. We haven’t really seen an “old Gucci”, “old Burberry or “old Louis Vuitton” for example.
Q) Who would have been a more appropriate choice to succeed Philo at Céline?
I loved the idea of Mary Kate and Ashley Oslen at Céline. The Olsen’s were a huge advocate of Phoebe’s Céline. They have mentioned their admiration in interviews and they are always spotted in old Céline. The Row and old Céline are sophisticated and simple, yet luxurious. Following old Céline, The Row designs for the modern woman – transcending the male gaze.
Q) Which is your favourite Céline campaign and collection? Why?
It’s so hard to choose a favourite collection – but I’d have to say Fall 2017 RTW. Joan Didion for Céline shot by Juergen Teller was my favourite campaign. Céline climbed higher than any other fashion house with this campaign to present something truly unique and progressive.
Q) How did you come to having the gold mine of content that you do for the account?
I’ve always saved old Céline content for mood boards and inspiration so it all just fell together!
Q) Tell us about your plans for OldCeline.com.
oldceline.com will be an extension of the Instagram account, to continue the curation of a digital platform and an Old Céline community. I would love to curate an online store for a collection of old Céline items as well!
Photographs: Porus Vimadalal
Stylist: Prayag Menon
On Gabrielle: Sweatshirt, Old Céline; Pants, Céline; Shoes, Gabrielle’s own; Dress, Gabrielle’s own; Pendant necklace, Céline.