There’s no questioning the pedigree of Hedi Slimane. A man who practically defined an era of menswear with his work as Dior Homme in the early-2000’s, and then completely reshaped the aesthetic of Yves Saint Laurent (not to mention changing the name of the brand to Saint Laurent Paris, as it stands today), Slimane is one of the very few designers that’s proven to be—not trendy—but a true trendsetter. It’s his unique (and, commercially successful) vision that will fill the void left by the equally impactful Phoebe Philo, as Slimane becomes Céline’s artistic, creative and image director.

Slimane enters the new role on February 1 of this year, and will have control over the runway collections, fragrance and couture. But perhaps the biggest news around the appointment is that Céline will finally be receiving a menswear line—something male fans of Philo’s Céline have been clamoring for for years.

The move reunites Slimane with LVMH—the owners of both Dior and Céline—after his time under the rival Kering banner with Saint Laurent. “I am particularly happy that Hedi is back within the LVMH Group and taking the creative reins of our Céline maison,” Bernard Arnault, chairman and CEO of LVMH, told WWD. “[Slimane is] one of the most talented designers of our time.”

For a fuller picture on how wide Slimane’s vision will stretch at Céline, according to Arnault, “Hedi will oversee all creativity for both women’s and men’s fashion, but also for leather goods, accessories and fragrances. He will leverage his global vision and unique esthetic virtuosity in further building an iconic French maison.” As one of the more successful labels in the LVMH fashion portfolio, Slimane’s appointment serves as both a sign of major confidence in his vision as well as a signal that the conglomerate expects the brand to continue to grow. WWD notes that Céline is quickly approaching a billion euros in revenue.

Of course, brand growth is one of Slimane’s specialties. Even after Slimane left the label in April of 2016, he had turned Saint Laurent into one of Kering’s cash cows. In 2015, the conglomerate explained that Slimane had doubled the Saint Laurent business in three years at the helm, and Saint Laurent’s growth was only just overtaken by Kering’s current golden child—Alessandro Michele’s Gucci—as of July 2017. It’s information that reinforces how popular Slimane’s work and aesthetic is with today’s consumer; remember, Saint Laurent was still feeling the effects of Slimane more than year after his departure and replacement by Versus Versace’s Anthony Vaccarello. You can clean out the instagram—but those who’ve witnessed even just one of Vaccarello’s Saint Laurent shows can see and feel the after-effects of Slimane on the brand.

Philo’s final collection for Céline will hit the runway during the women’s Fall/Winter 2018 shows in March. Slimane’s first Céline show will debut this September. According to WWD, the first Céline men’s boutiques are targeted to open at some point in 2019. This move also signals how much influence Slimane will have on the wider Céline brand. As WWD explains, Slimane will have input over the vision behind the brand’s 150 retail locations, not to mention a “made-to-measure” couture-esque line (“without big fashion shows”) and influence over Céline beauty and fragrances—something Slimane had at Dior, but not Saint Laurent. Slimane is reported to maintain his home in Los Angeles—something he was known for at Saint Laurent—while shuttling between the US and Paris. It’s a major request for any brand, but not something Céline is entirely un-used to; Philo was known to stay in London with her family while traveling to Paris regularly to deal with her responsibilities at Céline.

The biggest question that remains, however, is perhaps at the core of the excitement of Slimane’s appointment: How will Slimane change Céline’s aesthetic? Under her 10 year reign (which feels like a lifetime in today’s cycle of creative director turnover) Philo lifted the brand from €200 million in sales, to over €700 million. Currently, the label enjoys a cult following, due in no small part her legion of it bags, intellectual-yet-inexplicable aesthetic and a unique approach to the work of being a fashion designer (The Cut’s Cathy Horyn explains that je ne sais quoi better than I ever could).

Considering that Slimane is known for taking over a house with his aesthetic rather than bending to label’s original codes (look no further than his overhaul of Saint Laurent), there’s a good chance that Slimane will rewrite Philo’s Céline is his own image. Even as Philo diehards may find that depressing, it’s hard to ignore the financial success that’s sure to follow after Slimane’s first offering hits shelves. “We have had a lot of success with Hedi over the years and the introduction of men’s wear at Céline is an incredible opportunity at Barneys, president and CEO of Barneys New York Daniella Vitale, told WWD. “Genius move on the part of Céline.” According to WWD legendary designer and noted Slimane-stan Karl Lagerfeld exclaimed, “I am enchanted, what a great choice,” after hearing about the appointment.

It may sound cliché, but it’s true: only time will tell.

Tags: kering, lvmh, celine, dior-homme, saint-laurent, hedi-slimane