What Hedi Slimane does at CELINE is more than just designing highly covetable menswear in killer cuts. Every facet of the fashion house is moulded in his vision, creating that consistently Parisian chic aesthetic.
Slimane is known for not only his contributions to fashion, but also delving into other forms of art. While his photography has been extensively exhibited all over the world, he’s also had a hand in curating exhibitions.
It comes as no surprise then that he has often included contributions by various artists in his fashion collections for CELINE. Two of the artists that are featured heavily in Hedi Slimane’s spring/summer 2020 collection for CELINE are American mixed-media artist David Kramer and German contemporary artist André Butzer. We speak to them to understand how their works fit into CELINE’s collection and the similarities of fashion and the art world.
ESQ: How different was it working on this collaboration?
ANDRÉ BUTZER: It’s an honour for me to see people who are interested in my art and who come from a different perspective. Fashion is an art form too, whether industrialised or not. I think the people behind CELINE knew what they wanted and I trusted them to work with the right images.
DAVID KRAMER: Text has always been the finishing touch or even the secret ingredient that makes my painting work. I was at first averse to the idea of stripping the words off the painting and letting them exist on a shirt or jacket. Hedi convinced me that the words would float on the person or the experiences that the person would have while wearing them. But it was really at the runway show that I fully comprehended how the text splashed across an event could really define the experience. The paintings became a performance.
ESQ: How was the correlation between the text and the pieces in the collection chosen?
DAVID KRAMER: I shared a lot of my work with Hedi. He was very thorough and always wanted to see more. In the end, Hedi became the curator. I provided lots of raw material.
ESQ: I’ve read that the texts come from either your own thoughts or conversations you’ve had. Can you share some anecdotes behind the texts used?
DAVID KRAMER: I wish I could remember. I mean, it has got to the point that in the middle of just about every conversation I have, somebody will stop and say to me: “Hey! You really should use that in a painting.” I don’t even bother writing them down; I have a million of them. The problem is, these days, you kind of need two million.
ESQ: André, what’s the idea behind the distorted figures used for the collection?
ANDRÉ BUTZER: What I see in these figures is their beauty as well as their obligation or damnation to be part of endless repetition and surprise.
ESQ: What’s a highlight of the collaborative process between you and Hedi?
ANDRÉ BUTZER: CELINE left me alone and let me paint in my garden while being surrounded by birds and palm trees.
DAVID KRAMER: The scale of CELINE is something that I have come to really enjoy getting to work with. Seeing my work out there in multiple cities at the same time, people posting themselves in the clothes on social media… it’s so fantastic. I still love most the part of being an artist when I am losing myself in the studio, but to have all these wheels turning all at once is truly something I had never experienced before, at least not on this scale.
ESQ: Fashion—depending on what one wears—can be a conversation starter. What kind of conversations do you hope your work with CELINE sparks?
DAVID KRAMER: Aspiration is a fantastic thing, even if it is not always obtainable. I hope with my words, and self-deprecating humour, that aspiration can become a thing again, but with an eye on the individual striving for their own goals of self-actualisation.
ANDRÉ BUTZER: I hope that the CELINE audience will love their products and if they’re unfamiliar with me or my work, will google for my art.
ESQ: Do you see any parallels between fashion and art?
DAVID KRAMER: Certainly there are. Fashion and art have always danced together. I love the art world but the fashion world has better parties.
ANDRÉ BUTZER: I think it’s the same. Both are about blossoming and decay—about the origin of life.
ESQ: Would you be open to more fashion collaborations?
ANDRÉ BUTZER: Yes.
DAVID KRAMER:I hope so. This project seems to have been a huge success. I would love to get to work with Hedi again on a future line after this one.
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