Céline New Bond Street: carnival of matter, furniture, art
Céline New Bond Street: a carnival of materials, furniture and art
The French house is opening Celine New Bond Street, an art-filled flagship store in central London. Commissioned works of art by Nika Neelova and Leilah Babirye and a decidedly contemporary palette of materials contrast with the listed Edwardian building, reflecting artistic director Hedi Slimane’s vision of demanding opulence
Approach the baroque-style facade of Celine New Bond Street, the house’s new London flagship, and you won’t be greeted with handbags, shoes and clothing, but a statement of material integrity and Modernist rigor: Sitting in a Window Facing the Street is a sculpture by artist Marie Lund, which positions a copper wing against blocks of clay. Perfectly disarming and seductive, it is a portal into the arena of demanding opulence of the artistic director of Céline Hedi Slimane.
With its veined marble floors, folding mirrors and lighted shelves, the store – located at 40 New Bond Street – diffuses a brutalist neoclassical vibe somewhere between a 15th-century Dutch still life and the bright hotel suite by 2001: A Space Odyssey. It is a sculptural space, awash in stone, granite, marble, reclaimed oak, concrete, polished stainless steel and brass. A carnival of materials, furniture and works of art that is elementary and impressive.
The shoe room on the ground floor is located in a diamond-shaped room, fitted with mirror panels that fragment the screens into new formations
Enter Celine New Bond Street, the art-filled French house flagship in central London
Slimane’s intention was to interact with the Edwardian Grade II listed building in two unique ways. The 345 m² ground floor is dedicated to women, formulated around the aura of French elegance and classic luxury. An octagonal room – originally designed in the style of an Italian cave with panels of fine shells – is now dedicated to the Céline Haute Parfumerie collection. Long shelves and shelves float in the space. Two of the wooden handrail sculptures by London artist Nika Neelova hang from the ceiling. “This commission was an interesting way to let go of something and allow him to acquire his own life and his own place in the world. One that is outside of institutions and galleries, ”she says.
The mirrored panels lining the walls fragment all the works on display into new formations. “It almost creates this endless loop wherever you look, with all the artists coming together. I am very interested in this hybrid model where disciplines are starting to intersect and borders are blurring, ”says Neelova. “Looking at references from outside the fashion world in the context of a boutique is a great way to change things. It looks like the perfect art show.
Above: Edwardian ceiling moldings as seen in the mirrored panels. Above: A fur-covered chair brings an unexpected touch of warmth to the ground floor
The expansive 466m² floor plan is punctuated by numerous rooms that are part of the Celine Art Project, which invites contemporary artists to create works specifically for stores around the world. Slip into the men’s aisle in the basement and you are greeted by a polished bronze bell by artist Davina Semo – which you are invited to ring – hovering over a corner of stools, chairs and of eclectic wooden books on Auguste Rodin, Charlotte Perriand and Otto Dix. Here, the walls are finished in smooth white, the fine concrete floor tinged with smog.
The works create a unique tension between what is public and private space, the exhibition and the exhibitor, the material and the meaning. This reinvention of form, place and value is what seduced New York sculptor Leilah Babirye, whose 2.7m wooden totem stands on the ground floor in front of a mirrored accordion. It signals a change of space from one room to another. “In this context, I feel like the piece captures a lot of people – it opens up a lot of the dialogue that I try to discuss in the work itself,” she says. “I’ve never done anything for a store or a public space, so I’m interested in how people react and relate to it. I didn’t know Céline before because I’m not a fashion person. I’m an artist.’
Leilah Babirie, Najunga of the Kuchu Ngaali clan (Crane crane), a 2.7m wooden totem pole located on the ground floor of Celine New Bond Street. Courtesy of Gordon Robichaux, New York and Stephen Friedman Gallery, London
Through his large-scale ceramic pieces, wooden sculptures, masks, drawings and paintings, Babirye examines the hierarchy of clans in the Buganda Kingdom, a Bantu enclave within his native Uganda. Her use of found materials is a way to confront the LGBTQ + story and “feel like we are being treated as waste”. Title Najunga of the Kuchu Ngaali clan (Crane crane), the room is an unwavering tower of dark wood, wax, glue, acrylic, bolts, washers, nails, aluminum, braided bicycle tire tubes and welded metal. She was commissioned to do the play in July. “It was also very difficult for me because I don’t work like that – with someone who tells me they want something that looks like another piece I made,” Babiyre says. “I don’t have a sketch. I never know what I’m going to do next time I sculpt or if I find the same materials. I’m just looking at the material. The material pushes me to do whatever happens.
This question of materials is what strikes most in Slimane’s curatorial act. Both Babirye and Neelova’s pieces are encrusted with a veiled meaning, their material provenance just as important as their conceptual weight. “I have a bunch of things that I have picked up everywhere, even in junkyards. It’s surprising how much difference people throw in here in the United States, ”Babirye says. “Where I’m from, it’s hard to find stuff because people use stuff. So when someone from my house sees my work with spoons, forks, knives, he asks me: “Do you buy them? And I have to explain that I find them on the street.
that of Neelova Lemniscate XI and Lemniscate XIV are made from salvaged ramps that she reassembles into vast orchestral objects. They resonate with Slimane’s preoccupation with presenting us with something we think we’ve seen before – denim jeans, varsity jackets, fitted skirts – but under his guidance they feel oddly new.
Above: the sculptures of Nika Neelova, Lemniscate XI and Lemniscate XIV, which are made from salvaged railings and hung from the ceiling of Celine New Bond Street. Courtesy of the artist. Above: Neelova, pictured at Celine New Bond Street on November 1, 2021
“I think in that sense there is a contrast with the works on display because my pieces are based on architectural fragments recovered and reused, but I chose the handrail because it is something that is specifically molded. to fit in the palm of your hand. It’s something designed based on human proportions and it choreographs the body through space. I think there is a good cross in the sense that fashion is so built around the human body and human proportions, “says Neelova.” I had read somewhere that over time the wooden railings picked up microscopic pieces of skin. And so for me these pieces also carry the memories of everyone who has interacted with them, they carry the DNA of hundreds and hundreds of people.
Dealing with the human body is the modus operandi of fashion. In one of the men’s dressing rooms is an oil painting dated 1670 of a young man in steel armor and a white silk belt. Entitled Portrait of Maximilien de Béthune Duc de Sully and the Flemish school, it aligns curiously with Slimane’s ongoing photographic ode to youth and beauty. It adds another layer to the store as a space for deadly contemplation. §