Think Céline and a vivid image of the haute monde toting the classic luggage tote pops into your head and when you delve into this chain, you think of every imaginable synonym for chic as you think of the Céline aesthetics. Céline was not always this ‘thinking woman’s’ label as it stands today. Safe to say, those of us tracking the movements of the fashion players in the world would all agree that Céline is as it stands, an extension of Phoebe Philo’s creative genius. Be it her take on fashion as ‘back-to-reality’ and utilitarian or the time for Spring, 2015 when Céline gave us an alternate ditzy floral sartorial reality, Phoebe Philo’s vision makes Céline, what the American Vogue calls, ‘achingly cool’.
What makes Phoebe Philo so dauntingly cool to me is probably a thought for another day but it has something of an adhesive quality to what makes Joan Didion the coolest poster girl for Céline.
I must confess that I have not read any of Joan Didion’s vivifying works. I had, however, heard of her for a variety of reasons, be it her literary prowess with works like ‘The year of magical thinking’ which she wrote pondering over the very last syllable of death or ‘Slouching towards Bethlehem’ or her stint at Vogue in the ‘50s where her piece on morality rightly fitted into the glamour two page spread in Vogue. It is something to laud a writer for if the masses of a country are swayed towards adopting writing as a career choice only because her writing. Her writing, which is known to be so composed and yet so detailed, about her, yet so universally understandable. With her ‘70s sweater dresses and reed thin figure, Joan Didion was the original cool writer chick of America. I could not possibly justify the shock I felt when I realized that for the longest time, there existed no documentary on the life and work of this understated cerebral writer chick. The one that her nephew shot is possibly one of the pieces that gives voice to this beautifully wrinkled face that is not afraid to bask in the beauty of ageing. Is that what makes Joan Didion the right face for Céline? The fact that ageing is a natural process which few manage to process ever so gracefully and with the utmost maturity. Just like say, Céline was resuscitated when Phoebe Philo joined the ranks and tapped into the label’s subterranean charm. Maybe it is the fact that someone as definitively cool as Phoebe could have always idolized a Joan Didion and finally decided to give this body of work, that is Céline, a much-needed intellectual powerhouse makeover. Could it be that the cutting edge precision with which Phoebe has devised the strategy and designs for Céline are much in tune with the obsessive writing ways of Joan Didion. Much lesser known facts about Joan include that her pieces work around character count, not word count and if that was not enough, she checks all her pieces multiple times against the transcript.
What is it about Joan in the photograph for the ad campaign as shot by Juergen Teller that makes me see Céline in almost a new light? I have always believed that the cool, sophisticated, structured yet fluid designs of Céline are possibly a part of every fashionista’s virtual pinboard. But maybe the unwavering, sometimes-harsh million-dollar industry that is fashion, sometimes glosses over even the smartest, most inventive design. Joan brings to Céline, not a gloss but a matte finish, which only comes with the wisdom of a figure like Joan. Joan’s ways of absolute nonchalance to the waves that she is creating in the fashion world are much on the lines of Phoebe Philo’s who has always been known to eschew the press for as long as she can.
Old is cool. More so when old is beautiful and blissfully unaware of it. We might be heading towards a trend of reviving the old in the name of fashion (Read: Dolce & Gabbana Spring-Summer ’15 campaign), but it is hard to ignore the fact that style is eternal.
My money is on this one.