It was telling that Hedi Slimane’s SS20 Celine collection featured one liners from artist David Kramer, including: “I have nostalgia for things I probably have never known.” His collection, presented in Paris last week, nodded to the ’70s: shrunken jackets, leather trousers and stone-washed denim that wouldn’t look out of place in Mick Jagger’s old tour wardrobe, worn by a troop of long-haired boys who marched the runway in time to a hypnotic beat.
Music is integral to the designer and photographer’s creative process. Having embraced musicians as the face of many of his collections at Saint Laurent – from Courtney Love, Joni Mitchell, and Kim Gordon, to Daft Punk and BB King – Hedi is continuing to champion rock ‘n’ roll rebels while in his role as the creative, artistic and image director at Celine.
This time around Hedi enlisted Bodega, a four-piece Brooklynite art-rock band, to soundtrack the show. Written, composed, recorded and mixed by the band themselves, Name Escape – a track taken from their debut album Endless Scroll, released in 2018 – ran the entire length of the show.
It’s a post-punk anthem laced with sarcasm. While the album is an account of the area they hail from – a commentary on the gentrification of Bushwick, zooming in on the sea of white bearded clones that populate the area, each setting out to look individual, but ultimately all looking the same – Name Escape sees lead singer Ben pseudo-rap about a fictional character: “I’ve seen him at Palisades closing out tabs. I’ve seen him outside of metros flagging down cabs” /“His pants are much tighter than the last time we met” /“He’s got a pizza-core badge which he bought on the Internet.” We caught up with the band after the show to talk Brooklyn, leather, denim and, err, Bruce Springsteen’s butt.
What’s the story behind Name Escape…
Bodega Ben: The song details observations from a night at the now defunct Bushwick DIY venue Palisades. The Smiths blare out of the P.A. as I chat with people I’ve seen hundreds of times but will never really know. The archetype is you and me and everyone we know.
Why did it feel like the right song for Celine SS20?
BB: Maybe Hedi was wryly suggesting that since the clothes make the man, with the right look, language is unnecessary to denote a subject.
Madison Velding-VanDam: Hedi felt we had the right commodity for his target market.
How is Name Escape representative of Brooklyn?
BB: The current brand of Brooklyn is a music venue where everyone is an artist too busy hustling to be a member of an audience.
MVV: The escaped names are a loose collection of Brooklynite hobbyists and addicts who keep referring to themselves as “The Scene” for some reason.
What does it mean to be individual in 2019?
BB: A master of your curated digital island but a slave to the cultural, technological, and financial conditions that make your island habitable. Today, when thinking of his island, Polonius would say to the prince: “To thine own shelf be true”.
Nik E Ikki: Timothy Leary’s “Turn on, tune in, drop out” ’60s phrase has become an echo of our current idealistic prison. Every morning we reach for our phone and every bathroom break is a chance to check your notifications – you gotta catch them all.
MVV: An individual is one whose personal brand is scalable enough to cut through the saturated marketplace.
What did you think of the show?
N: I’m impressed they staged the show in front of Napoleon’s tomb.
MVV: Hedi’s done it again.
Which were your favourite pieces?
BB: The black suit with the red rose. It reminded me of Eisenstein’s trick in Battleship Potemkin to paint the flag red in an otherwise all black and white movie.
Where would you wear the collection?
BB: On my body.
MVV: A wine bar, perhaps a cocktail lounge, never a dive.
N: I would wear the clothes after an accidental crash landing into the quarantined wasteland of Manhattan 20 years from now. Fighting off the rising tides on 14th street I will cling to my Celine suitcase, the last comfort of the former world before my imminent death by radiation.
Leather or denim? Discuss.
BB: The vegetarian in me wants to say denim but I prefer leather on a man. Ethics and aesthetics have always butted heads.
MVV: Leather. Denim only ever looked good on Springsteen’s buttocks.