By Christopher Luu
Oct 04, 2018 @ 9:30 pm

Paris Fashion Week saw the debut of Hedi Slimane's Celine, where the designer didn't just drop the accent above the E, but gave the entire label an overhaul. And while shoppers may love another chance to snag a Slimane creation, critics weren't so kind to his collection. Slimane, no stranger to controversy, slammed back, saying that negative reviews, which addressed the show's lack of diversity, the apparent rehash of Slimane greatest hits, and complete dismissal of the brand's history, may have been simply homophobic.

"It's very off-putting and I still feel like they're talking about someone else," he said of the criticism. "The spirit of the show was light and joyful, but today, lightness and insouciance are being questioned in fashion," he said in an email, Fashionista reports. "It's possible that there is a surprising subtext of latent homophobia there."

Yanshan Zhang/Getty Images

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"Slimane doesn't seem particularly interested in addressing the mundane issues in a woman's life. His fashion is not here to solve your problems. Save your problems for your therapist. His designs are about his vision. They are not welcoming. They exist behind the velvet rope. They are the after after party," Robin Givhan wrote in the Washington Post.

Critics compared him to Donald Trump, saying that his designs didn't address the needs of women in their everyday lives. Why the Trump comparisons? The world seemed divided, with one group saying that a label that was once celebrated for creating clothing for women by a woman (in this case, Phoebe Philo) had been taken over by a man. And at least this time around, the man showed very young women in very short dresses. He also focused in on American fashion reporters, saying that it was that specific group that honed in on the fact that he had taken over a position held by a woman.

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"The comparisons to Trump were opportunistic, rather audacious and quite comical, just because the women in my show were free and nonchalant," Slimane wrote in response. "They are free to dress as they wish."

The designer is taking the criticism in stride, however, calling it "unhoped-for publicity" and an example of the French spirit. Celine, he says, is a champion of nonconformity and freedom.