Unpacking CELINE’s “PORTRAIT OF” series

Unpacking CELINE’s “PORTRAIT OF” series

by Ollie Cox
5 min

Lily McInerny has just been photographed by CELINE Creative Director Hedi Slimane as part of the Maison’s “PORTRAIT OF” series, continuing Slimane’s defining visions for CELINE that speak to a wider cultural narrative than clothing alone. And it’s going down a treat, given CELINE’s revenues surpassed €2 billion in 2023, proving the indie sleaze flag bearer’s ability to tap into a broader cultural discourse that transforms shareable moments into sales. Following the announcement of CELINE’s latest Slimane-shot portrait series, we thought we’d dive into some of our favourites. 

The latest muse

Lily McInerny is the most recent CELINE “PORTRAIT OF AN ACTRESS” star and was pictured wearing CELINE pieces styled by Slimane, including knitted polos, leather bags, and Triomphe-logoed Kurt Kobain-style glasses. McInerny, who was nominated for Best Breakthrough Performance at the 2023 Independent Spirit Awards for her role in Palm Trees and Power Lines, joins a list of trailblazers and tastemakers in the ongoing series. McInerny’s portraits reflect Slimane’s flair for documenting creatives at the cutting edge of contemporary culture. She recently starred alongside Chloë Sevigny on the set of Bonjour Tristesse, a fellow New Yorker, who rose to prominence as a ‘90s scene kid during Slimane’s tenure at Saint Laurent, where his slim-cut aesthetic won over harsh critics, catapulting the brand into new cool guy and girl territory.

The eternal scene kid 

Slimane’s eye for documenting key contributors to contemporary culture oozes from CELINE’s “PORTRAIT OF” series, which speaks to his creative legacy outside fashion, with the Creative Director taking up photography before he was a teenager. He has since submersed himself into a slew of creative scenes, notably across music and club culture (he famously documented Pete Doherty and Amy Winehouse and embedded himself in the Berlin club crowd), as well as extending his lens to tattoo artists and actors. Slimane’s style of photography, which has come to dominate CELINE campaigns in recent years, is defined by strong black-and-white still-life shots of his subjects, cementing the enduring spirit of youth.

In December 2022, an 81-year-old Bob Dylan appeared in a “PORTRAIT OF A MUSICIAN” campaign, donning an eternally cool leather jacket and square-framed sunglasses – all CELINE, of course. Bob Dylan is widely credited as a musical genius, giving a grit to blues-infused rock aided by a poetic lyricism that ages like fine wine. He’s known for dressing pretty sick, too, sporting leather double-breasted jackets, and was wearing western-style clothing way before Cowboy Carter was a thing. Not only is his appearance in a CELINE campaign pretty major, but serves as a testament to Slimane’s legacy as an image-maker and fashion designer, with his ability to direct and shoot campaigns for the brand further showing the breadth of his talents.

Previous “PORTRAIT OF” stars include the actors Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Owen Teague, Corey Fogelmanis, Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker and Julian Casablancas of The Strokes. Each shoot follows Slimane’s signature format and spotlights his close relationship with his muses, who have come to define his legacy at the House of CELINE. For example, Casablancas was captured at the Chateau Marmont hotel in Los Angeles, the party place favoured by a load of Hollywood stars and musicians, in keeping with the indie sleaze-tinged hedonism which surrounds Slimane’s work like a low-hanging cloud of cigarette smoke. Other musicians immortalised in the “PORTRAIT OF” series include Paul Banks of Interpol and Wiz Khalifa who have starred in CELINE’s “PORTRAIT OF A MUSICIAN” series.

Creativity beyond clothing

Slimane’s creative legacy is seen across CELINE’s wider output. Most recently, we saw this at the CELINE Homme Winter 2024 show, titled Symphonie Fantastique, as runway-esque desert shots juxtaposed with intimate close-ups filmed at LA’s Troubadour club, where rock and roll-rooted explorations exemplified Slimane’s skill as both a designer and director. For CELINE’s Summer 2024 Delusional Daydream film, Slimane again showcased his wide-reaching creative visions for the House, as full looks danced between shots of ballet dancer Laurids Seidel’s enchanting display of movement. Both collections contribute to CELINE by Hedi Slimane’s carefully crafted world, where clothing is woven into wider creative narratives around actors, dancers, and musicians – many of whom have become muses for the Maison. 

CELINE’s “PORTRAIT OF” series incorporates Creative Director Hedi Slimane’s photographic legacy into the world of CELINE, combining clothing collections with a diverse range of muses and cultural icons. The result is an artistic exploration of fashion’s alignment with wider creative works that exist as an intimate photo series as much as it does a fashion campaign. 

More on Culted 

See: CELINE Homme Winter 2024 wasn’t Hedi Slimane’s first rodeo

See: The inspiration behind CELINE Homme’s Delusional Daydream Summer 2024 collection

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