Hedi-sm: The 3 commandments for creatives to live by, according to Celine's Hedi Slimane
Commandment #1: Have a personal vision — and stick to it.
Hedi Slimane's singular vision has carried him from Dior Homme where he redefined menswear with his skinny suiting in the early 2000s to Saint Laurent which he re-energised with a clean slate from 2012 to 2016, and now three seasons in at Celine. The lexicon of the Slimane universe is clear as day to both critics and consumers by now: clothes that reference a bygone era of glamorous youth and a minimal monochromatic visual aesthetic, all personified by a gang of mostly white skinny youth nonchalantly lounging without a worry in the world. However self-referential it may be, sticking to his well-oiled guns has turned out to be a money-making machine for his backers wherever he goes. The same dogged determination may apply to any emerging creative in Singapore. Learn to be uncompromising in your output without undervaluing yourself or swaying with fleeting trends, and soon before long, there'll be a market for your work, be it niche or mass. If the concept of "be yourself" seems a little abstract, then start with what you're good at. But don't look like you care too much. For Slimane, it's that defiant rockability that all of us, no matter our age, wish we could be IRL.
Commandment #2: Make an entrance.
The flashing lights of a nightclub, the whirring of robotic mechanisms and the static sounds of a sound test before a sold-out concert — you'll only need to go back to Slimane's first collection at Saint Laurent in 2012 to know that this man knows how to ramp up anticipation with his set design. Fast forward to his spring/summer 2019 debut at Celine, he erected a mirror-lined music box made of reflective glass that moved to create a kaleidoscopic effect. Two drummers from the French Republican Guard literally provided the drum roll to the opening look. He followed that up with a geometric fluorescent-lined sphere that glided before the audience for his most recent men's show. First impressions count. More than a snazzy outfit for an interview or client presentation, these days first impressions happen online: on your carefully curated public IG profile (switch it to private if you're more Kawakubo than Slimane), your decked out official site, or if you're less than lucky, being tagged on someone else's photo on FB. Considering it barely takes 30 seconds for people to decide whether they like you in-person, the point we can take away from Slimane here is it is perfectly fine to add some razzle-dazzle to your persona. Throw in a haunting Moses Sumney track to accompany a slideshow of pensive photographs on your website. Try a sans serif font other than Helvetica on your CV to keep in line with his rebranding of Celine. Replace all the unattractive photos on FB with well-lit photos of your artwork. Maybe a back-facing profile image on WhatsApp with a tailored jacket to stir some sophisticated mystery. Like the barely-there teaser to the final season of GoT, you've got eight seconds to draw in your next follower, client and collaborator.
Commandment #3: It's all about packaging.
Instead of a traditional paper show invitation for his debut offering at Celine, Slimane opted for a fourteen-page, hardcover art book. It featured black-and-white photographed posters of 10 of Paris' most famous nightlife institutions: Balajo, Bus Palladium, Chez Castel, Chez Jeannette, Chez Moune, Folies Pigalle, La Cigale, La Java, Le Rouge, and Pile ou Face. Taken by the designer himself with his signature high-contrast monochrome lens, the book has been regarded as a collectible now and reselling for more than a few hundred dollars. Graffiti-smeared lavatories, well-worn dancefloors and decorative Art Nouveau cornices — these were presumably Slimane's late-night haunts while studying at École du Louvre. Naysayers and detractors might be able to object to Slimane's clothes, but they can't fault the lithe Frenchman's all-encompassing eye. Take a cue from Slimane's book by repackaging your ideas and artwork. Dramatise a tired professional bio with poetic flair. Convert less-than-impressive photographs into black-and-white to minimize any distraction. Collaborate with a writer or artist to augment your point of view. Sometimes, even the most complex ideas need to be edited down, simplified and communicated visually rather than a berate of paragraphed texts. It works for Slimane, and if it ain't broke, why fix it?
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