Celine's SS20 collection featured all your usual Hedi Slimane checkpoints: slim silhouettes, skinny ties, animal prints, and rock and roll styling cues. The season also introduced a new collaboration with American artist David Kramer, whose work riffs on West Coast idealization, nostalgia, and ’70s print advertisements.
It was a perfect match for Slimane's aesthetic — the designer has often looked to California for inspiration, where he’s found it in the form of indie-rock bands, palm trees, and disaffected youth. This heavily informed his work at Saint Laurent, the headquarters of which he infamously relocated to LA in 2012.
As Celine SS20 percolates online, we spoke with Kramer about the process of collaborating with a luxury brand and society's collective cultural departure from irony into an era of sincerity.
Hi David, what’s your main inspiration?
Well, I am a New Yorker, but I have a real love for West Coast conceptualism and I have an affinity to West Coast kind of work. It is the stuff of dreams, I think universally, for all.
For Americans certainly, and it seems to me from my experience, certainly a lot of French and Europeans have this dream too, which has always been funny to me.
How did you get involved with the Celine SS20 collection?
It was out of the blue. Hedi knew my work through art fairs and my exhibitions, but it was quite a surprise to get an email, basically saying, "How would you feel about working together on a project?”
Of course I was familiar with Celine, so it was thrilling. I honestly thought we wouldn't get past much of a back and forth about my work and then perhaps they would move on. But that never happened, so we got deeper into it straight away.
What was the collaborative process like?
Originally I tried to curate what I was going to send because of course, like most artists, I was interested in what it was I was working on at the time. So I sent "Here's the last couple of months worth of things and this is where I'm at and what do you think?" And mostly his response was to send “more sunsets!”
I was pleased with what they chose because it was all my recent work, which I was excited about.
What are your thoughts on combining fashion and art together? How does it serve you as an artist?
I had seen a lot of collaborations like Jeff Koons and Louis Vuitton etc, I had also seen fashion take Andy Warhol’s work and put them on T-shirts, so it's not unfamiliar to see art and fashion together. But, I had a rather suspect kind of view of it because I rarely viewed those projects as something that organically grew out of new art, it was almost like appropriation of existing work.
But this project completely changed that perspective for me. I find the idea of lifting the words off of my paintings, putting them on bags, and then seeing them in fashion shows is like going full circle for me. It creates an environmental experiences of the artwork that I've been making. So, it's sort of amplified it in a really fantastic way that I don't know I would have had the means to without the tools of an industry.
A stand-out from the collection is the sweater that reads “THERE IS NO IRONY HERE," do you think we’re entering a sort of more post-ironic world?
I think post-irony is actually a great way to put it, because I don't think you can have a new sincerity without actually maintaining the perspectives that there was once a lot of irony.
That phrase originated from a painting I made using a picture from an old Playboy magazine. I painted a picture of a woman who looked like she could have been anybody's girlfriend, except she was a Playboy model, and I wrote "There's no irony here," because it just seemed so funny to me to be lusting after this thing that I was trying to paint – that I was trying to capture all this innocence but here I was doing it out of an old Playboy magazine, which at the time was like pornography.
I really loved the statement "There's no irony here," and I returned to it to paint on a sunset, which was like something that I had culled off somebody's Instagram that they had taken in California on the beach. I wrote "There's no irony here," and that was obviously one of the sunsets that Hedi gravitated towards.
Can you tell us more about the phrase “I have nostalgia for things I have probably never known," where did this come from?
It is a little sharp criticism in a sense that it's easier to cultivate something and curate your life now than it was, say, when I was younger in a pre-internet era when people were having to create their style or their look or their desires based on things that they actually came into contact with, as opposed to now everything is something you can come into contact with.
But I am nostalgic, so I wasn't trying to be so snarky when I wrote that, it was really more like a lamentation that I have, that I don't even know what I have connection to anymore because there's so much information out there that I'm connected to everything, whether I have a personal context or not.
So I mean it is like a double-edged kind of a statement because it is a little bit of this pointedness, like, "Hey, you don't know what's real." But at the same time, I do have nostalgia and I am completely nostalgic, and I love my memories.
Check out some of our favorite pieces from Celine SS20 below
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