To completely occupy a high-profile leadership position at a large design house, creatives like Slimane need to think about themselves in a wider context.

By Balthazar Malevolent


Hedi Slimane, creative director of Celine, is releasing a bunch of short films through Instagram, showcasing visual artists and musicians that Slimane himself has personally curated. The series acts as a follow-up to the partnership between Celine and the subscription-based streaming service MUBI, which allowed free access to 10 classic feature films also curated by Slimane. These initiatives trigger a compelling dialog about the role of art directors at the helm of huge maisons like Celine, and the multi-faceted approach needed. Brand production is only a portion of the thought leadership needed to successfully direct these gigantic fashion houses, and Celine beautifully extends beyond the insular world of fashion the proactive approach of Slimane to artisanal curating of all things.

The portrait of Hedi Slimane.

To completely occupy a high-profile leadership position at a large design house, creatives like Slimane need to think about themselves in a wider context. Slimane does this in an innovative manner by confidently curating artwork and events by other influencers, who inspired him as an influencer at the top. The resulting short films are unique collaborations which function in their own right as self-promotions, as well as small works of video art. Not only does Slimane curate these artists and musicians; he catches them in repeatable moments of time, doing what they do best: producing sounds and images in which they can personally communicate with audiences, in the same way that these artists interact with Slimane himself. This meta-process creates a subconscious feeling of triangulation in a way that is visceral, escapist and at times emotionally moving between Slimane, his followers and the highlighted artists. In addition, these easily digestible delights arrive at a time characterized by self-isolation, which is precisely when Slimane's audience is probably most in need of diversion.

It would be wise to take note of other house creatives and fashion marketers: this is how to lead a big-name brand with impact, and check all the boxes in a unique and satisfying way. Creating Content? Leadership of Thought? Partnership? Pleasant without a hitch? Check. Also the important fantasy wish-fulfillment category is implicitly but explicitly checked off the list, for what Celine Instagram follower did not (at some point) harbor a hidden fantasy of becoming a rock star or a popular artist?

Taking a moment and remembering the artists and musicians who are the real stars behind this digital campaign seems significant. Those are James Bagshaw, Josh Homme, Joan Jett, Shawn Kuruneru, Lucia and the Best Children, Carlos Valencia, plus Alexandra Savoir and the Oracle Sisters in alphabetical order. Without being captured so sensitively by their insecure artistic moments, this multimedia initiative would not exist or rather may have taken a completely different shape.

Ironically, Slimane's selected artists and performers are a combination of proven icons such as Joan Jett, mixed with relative newcomers such as Lucia and the Best Boys. Slimane's curations include moments of pure imagination and inspiration, whether revisiting a legendary artist or discovering someone new. So take a few moments to let it all sink in, and then maybe think about the best ways to share those things that offer personal inspiration in your own life. When you can find out how to express them in a personal and common way, then you will be praised and admired by your followers.

This game is crucial to survival in fashion business when the big players such as Hedi Slimane or Rick Owens curate and support younger up-and-coming artist. Michele Lamy, the muse and partner of Rick Owens, shares responsibility for the growth of the Owens brand and that of their protege Gareth Pugh. She also designs jewelry with Loree Rodkin and has appeared in music videos for FKA twigs and Black Asteroid. Lamy and her daughter Scarlett Rouge formed the band Lavascar with the artist Nico Vascellari.

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