Hedi Slimane, who since 2018 has been Celine’s creative, art and image director, is a bit like the Boris Karloff-meets-Greta Garbo of greater Los Angeles. Every once in a while, an online fashion forum might light up with rumors that he’s been spotted browsing vintage T-shirts at the Rose Bowl Flea Market, or guests at a Hollywood dinner party. art will obsess over an alleged visit to Frieze Los Angeles. The only real clue to what Slimane is up to? Diary of Hedi Slimane, the collection of portraits he has maintained on his website for over a decade. The Diary has the kind of cult following more typical of a zine or mixtape, showing moody children with rough features around the edge, with occasional appearances by the likes of Debbie Harry. (For that Tumblr teenager tearing and pinning her thrift-store T-shirts in the mall tundra that is suburbia, that was the Bible.)
Now model Kaia Gerber, a Malibu native and close friend of Slimane, has joined the legion of Journal subjects. Recently, he stopped by his family, dressed in a leather jacket, scarf and black jeans. “What I love about him is that he’s like me,” Gerber said in an interview. “He has a uniform and he only wears that.” He sat Gerber and her brother, Presley, with whom she was never photographed, and took the pictures here. “It was kind of a spur of the moment, Do you want to do this?” Well certainly! “Having someone in your home, Hedi is probably one of the only people I would want to do that with.”
He put on some good music, of course…electric mud, by Muddy Waters, which Gerber has been listening to virtually on repeat ever since — and it was “very easy to style and make up,” she says. “He’s such a genius. He knows what he wants. We can do so much in a day. And we will take a long break in the middle of the day. It really doesn’t feel like work.
What makes newspaper pictures so unique as an art project is that most fashion or fashion-adjacent pictures are all about evoking a fantasy or pretending. Slimane’s images speak to the life he and those around him actually live. Gerber says the two talked about “creating this form of intimacy that I think has to be there to create images like this. I think the reason he’s photographed so many incredibly iconic people is because he really creates that sense of intimacy that’s really hard to achieve when you’re, you know, surrounded by a group of people. She laughs. “It’s a really beautiful environment,” she adds, which is why the images are so nonchalant. Even Gerber and Slimane’s dogs were hanging around. (Slimane’s dog is called Elvis. And he’s got nice hair. “I’m like, sure your dog would have nice hair! “)
Gerber also wonders if the power of Slimane’s photography lies in the fact that he designs the clothes. and take the pictures, which is rarely (if ever) the case in fashion. “His attention to detail is something I’ve never seen before,” says Gerber. “Every bracelet, every earring, he has such an eye. He doesn’t forget anything.” So he makes careful adjustments to hair and jewelry as you shoot? Yes: “He’s a perfectionist at the highest level.”
The photos also have an unrushed and distinctly Californian feel to them. Anyone who doesn’t care that LA isn’t a fashion town these days is missing the point (and not just because Robert Altman The long goodbye, with its sweaty suits and proto-influencers doing nude yoga and its hippie housewife from Malibu, is the best fashion movie I’ve ever seen). “Normally, when we shoot, it’s in the south of France,” says Gerber. “Seeing him in my hometown was very cool.” He knows Malibu like the back of his hand, she adds. “That’s what’s crazy. Like the smoothie shop where my brother got his first job, he knew full well.
Slimane sees Los Angeles, and in particular Gerber’s native Malibu, as a style subculture, which he has infused into clothing, almost as gestures that only natives will recognize as local, but which can now show up in wardrobes of any cool person in Seoul or Tokyo. or London or New York. “I’ll go somewhere else and maybe notice the influence I didn’t realize before,” Gerber says. Its presence around the city has become something of a myth. “He’s always, I think, been drawn to the surf culture, and it shows so much in his collections, in his clothes. There was a bit like, the legend of hedi, like he’s somewhere around Malibu and he could kick you. There are people in my high school who have been photographed by him in a very similar way, just in their [own] clothes, capturing this culture. Even though Malibu is not recognized as a fashion capital, its stylistic influence has been enormous under the reins of Slimane at Celine. “It’s not appreciated that way. And I think Hedi really made it a fashion thing, like a cultural moment.
Sometimes Gerber watches his shows and thinks, “That’s so cool, I wonder where that came from!” And then I say to myself, wait! It’s something the kids at my school wore! But the way he does it makes you see it in a completely different way and appreciate it.
The two became friends about two years ago, around the time the pandemic brought the fashion world to a standstill and Slimane entered a creative golden age with his fashion movies. You could say TikTok revolutionized Celine menswear and Gerber did the same for womenswear; Walking the catwalks and animating numerous brand campaigns, she is both Celine’s muse and a member of Slimane’s inner circle. Today, Gerber wears Celine almost every day, but she remembers thinking early on, “Oh my God, what am I wearing to meet the coolest person with the coolest style?! ” (She’s not alone: Countless fashion designers, from Nicolas Ghesquière to Jonathan Anderson, have told me how cool Slimane is.) “I think it’s because simplicity and just being cool is one of the hardest things to do,” says Gerber. “And he just got it, up to a T.”
“He also makes the best of everything,” she continues. “He’ll take something and really turn it into the best it can be.” The perfect blue jeans, the perfect leather jacket. “He’s always been very good at elevating things. Maybe that’s the French part of him.
“I really like that you only need this a jeans–that’s your jeans. Or this jacket. I have this Celine leather blazer that, if you saw a picture of me last year, I’m probably wearing it. This is how I like to wear my clothes. If I find something I like, I’ll wear it all the time. And I think that’s why I like Hedi so much. He really does those parts where you can do that.
“His attention to detail is something I have never seen before. Every bracelet, every earring, he has such an eye. He doesn’t forget anything.”
But what are these two nimble fashion fanatics talking about? “He knows music, movies so well. He is truly an artist in the true sense of the term, where he draws inspiration from everywhere: images, architecture and furniture. He is so well versed. He’s a pretty intimidating person at first because he is who he is, but really, he’s such a nice, amazing, really smart person. Mostly, it’s just me asking him questions because I just want to know all about how his mind works.
The specificity of Slimane’s taste, his infamously demanding nature, also marked Gerber. “It is very rare that a person [thinking]’Oh, I like it’, they ask themselves, why do i like it? I think someone knows that answer. And many of us cannot answer this question. I think working with him I learned what I like about things, why I like them, and why I’m attracted to things. Far.
This story has been updated.
Rachel Tashjian is fashion news director at Harper’s Bazaar, working across print and digital platforms. Previously she was QGfirst fashion critic of, and worked as associate editor of GARAGE and as a writer at vanity lounge. She has written for publications such as Reading forum and art forumand is the creator of the invitation-only newsletter, Opulent Tips.