Hedi Slimane’s latest perfume for CELINE is an olfactory homage to Arthur Rimbaud

“At the age of 14, after our lessons, my friends and I would recite [Arthur] Rimbaud’s ‘Le Dormeur Du Val,’ lying in the grass,” Hedi Slimane recalls. “Like others before and after us, we were fascinated by the fragility and grace of the young poet, and felt his torments as if they were our own.”

Many years later, Slimane still feels the influence of the libertine poet whose transgressive work, most of it produced before the age of 20, made an indelible impact on literary culture. Created as an homage to Rimbaud, his latest perfume for CELINE seeks to capture the poet’s essence—drawing inspiration from a photo of the young Rimbaud which Slimane used to keep with him “religiously.” “Already, it seemed to me to be the image of eternal and universal youth,” he says. “I have always wanted to create a perfume that evokes utopia, the very essence of youth.”

It’s little surprise that Slimane’s latest olfactory portrait takes after his photographic ones; many of the most iconic images of youth have been captured through his lens, a vision that has developed over 30 years of image-making. Through his discovery of emerging musicians and artists, Slimane has defined and re-defined the aesthetic of indie youth imagery—a theme he began exploring through his online photo diary, and continues to expand on with fashion collections celebrating young subcultures. With his latest perfume for CELINE, Slimane aimed to distill the essence of youth in a perfume—a kind of “olfactory fragility, suspended, outside of time, skimming lightly over the skin… The grace, the soul-searching of adolescence.”