There’s a special relationship between designer and muse. The relationship is almost always symbiotic, each giving inspiration to the other with every collaboration. For Celine creative director Hedi Slimane, Kaia Gerber is a muse of the Cali-cool chic he embodies in his collections, with the youthquake of Gen-Z silhouettes filtered through his signature French flair. Gerber is, yes, a supermodel of the ages. But she is also mature for her age, with an indelible presence both online and in real life that surpasses her generation. Her inquisitive mind and casual, yet refined style make her the perfect Celine muse.
She’s starred in several campaigns, walked on runways, and most memorably, closed the brand’s epic show staged at the Wiltern in Los Angeles in late 2022. To kick off 2024, Gerber decamped to Miami with Celine to celebrate the rebirth of another one of Slimane’s muses: his storefronts. Specifically, the two-floor Design District brick-and-mortar that just got a serious facelift.
Slimane treats each Celine store like his baby, creating them from scratch and selecting every last finish and floorplan. The re-imagined Miami store is now a glimmering fortress of Celine-by-Hedi-ness, replete with every bag imaginable, a mirrored spiral staircase, and a “perfume organ” in front of a mirrored armoire stocked with everything that makes Celine the ultimate lifestyle brand: dog collars and bowls, hairbrushes, and even a chrome candle wick cutter that oozes luxury. The furniture also speaks to Slimane’s rapacious mind and eye for design, encapsulating everything that is modern, French, and easy on the eye. To put it simply, Kaia says: “It just feels expensive.”
To celebrate the occasion, Kaia enjoyed all that Miami has to offer: lounging at the pool, stopping by the beach and popping into the Celine store to try on some clothes. She utilized the fun house-style staircase for a psychedelic photo-op and answered questions exclusively for ELLE.com. Below, her favorite book of 2023, go-to Miami haunts, and must-have Celine pieces.
You’ve been to Miami before. Do you have any favorite spots that you like to visit?
I do. There’s a restaurant right around here called Mandolin. It’s so good! Delicious Greek food. I love Pura Vida for smoothies. I love to walk around Sunset Harbor. They opened Gotham Gym here, and that’s my gym in New York that I box at, so I’m very excited that there’s one here. My Miami is very different than I think people expect Miami to be. It’s not the South Beach partying-Miami, it’s very tranquil.
I always see Miami as ‘choose your own adventure.’
It is, it’s whatever you make it.
You’ve taken a look around the store, you chose this jacket. Is there anything else you’d pick out for a date night vibe in Miami?
I would wear anything in this store and I feel lucky that I get to just steal clothes from them. I think their bags are so beautiful and I think they make the best sunglasses. I see everyone wearing this specific sunglass style which is my favorite and I’ve been wearing for years. I see it on everyone, and I think that’s because they’re the best. I don’t have a face that’s good for all kinds of sunglasses. I have a very small face, and this is the only style that I wear.
I love them, and I love this bag, too.
Thanks, this bag is new and it’s so good. I’m one of those girls that carries, literally, my entire life. I need snacks, I need a book, so this fits everything.
Speaking of books, what is your favorite book that you read last year?
Oh my god, I actually got to read an early copy of a book that’s coming out next month called Martyr! by Kaveh Akbar, who is a wonderful Iranian poet. It’s his first novel. You cannot believe it’s his first novel when you read it; it feels so lived in and seasoned. It’s so, so incredible.
Anything on your radar that’s coming out this year?
I mean, that should be on everyone’s radar. I’m actually reading—it’s not a new book—but I’m reading this book called The Marriage Plot, which I’ve never read and am really into. I’m reading The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide for the first time, which is by James Fadiman, who I think is really fascinating. I’m finally getting into that, which is dense but wonderful.
You’re revamping your book club, something new is coming…
Something exciting is coming, no one knows what it is though!
I know you can’t tell me much, but what can we expect?
I’ve been so fortunate to be working on my book club now for four years. I started at the beginning of 2020 during the pandemic, and now it’s 2024. And so to be able to track that progress has just been amazing, and I wanted it to have more of its own home and to really create a community outside of social media. Of course, social media plays a really big part in how we connect with each other, and it can be so wonderful. Giving it its own home and being able to have a platform to amplify more authors’ voices and highlight more people is what I’m really excited about.
It’s so exciting that it happened, because you were just excited to do it.
It happened because I was excited and also sad that I wasn’t in my own book club, and super bored during the pandemic, and now it’s become this thing. When I think about the people I get to have on, I feel so grateful and lucky.
You’ve had so many amazing guests join book club… I mean, Laura Dern.
I know, Oscar-winner Laura Dern, is my favorite. Academy Award-winning Laura Dern, and Jane Fonda.
It’s just incredible. Is there anyone you haven’t had on yet that you would want to have on?
Eileen Myles is someone I’d really love to have on, I think they’re so cool. But, you know, I’m dreaming and shooting for the stars with that one.
I mean, you have to. You had Jane Fonda on.
I can’t believe that happened. We were on Instagram Live, and I don’t even know how to use Instagram Live. She’s so cool. She’s been arrested so many times. I love her. Before it was cool to protest, she was protesting.
I’m sure you’ll be traveling a lot this year, hopefully during fashion month. I hope to see you on the runway. Do you have any packing tips, or any hacks you’ve learned along the way?
If I can avoid checking a bag, I avoid checking a bag. That’s my biggest advice for everyone if, like, you can avoid it, just don’t do it. Don’t do it! Packing cubes, I’m very into packing cubes. I really just bring one really good pair of jeans. I have these Celine jeans that I’ve had for years that I wear all the time, and so I bring one good pair of jeans, and my Celine leather blazer which is the only thing anyone’s ever seen me wearing, ever. I just bring pieces that you can rewear because I try not to pack super heavy.
That’s always important. The Celine team have all been wearing their denim, and it’s the best.
It’s the best, it’s better than vintage which is crazy, because I never say that. The more you wear them, they literally melt into your body. I love their jeans so much. They look good on everyone.
What literary character do you think would wear Celine?
Oh my god, that’s such a good question. I’d like to think that Marguerite Duras would wear Celine. Who are yours?
Definitely someone French.
I know. Like the woman in Bonjour Tristesse. The woman who comes to visit, she’s super fab. I think she’d wear Celine. Someone in an Eve Babitz novel would wear Celine, I think. Who are you thinking?
That’s who I had in mind was an Eve Babitz or Joan Didion character. Or, she’s obviously not a literary character, but Patti Smith. I just imagine her in her books wearing Celine.
Yes! In the coolest way possible.
Since Hedi moved away from runway and he’s doing videos for his collections now, it’s so cinematic. So I’d like to imagine certain movie characters or book characters wearing Celine.
I’d love to see a Celine movie. I think he would do that so well. He curates everything so well. I don’t think anyone does it like Hedi. He’s so meticulous with everything, it’s not just about the clothes. It’s also the way they’re shot and the way that they’re worn. His attention to detail is unmatched. And it shows so much in the final product. When you see those videos, you know that the lighting, the location, everything, is so carefully curated by him.
That’s why I love him, because he thinks about 360 degrees.
And it’s wearable. I think we’re in an age where a lot of the fashion moments we see aren’t necessarily translatable to our real life. But what I love about Hedi is that he can do that really well, for the most part you see something and you’re like, “I can see where I’m going in that outfit.” And it’s so easy to wear, so I think they’re good investments because you actually know where you’re going in these. It’s not something you wear once and then have to move on from.
I mean, he can do your polka dot couture gown that you wore to the Academy Museum Gala, which was incredible. He lives in the fantasy life, but also this [leather jacket and jeans].
But also this, which I’d love to wear everyday.
You walked his L.A. show. What was that experience like?
It was so cool to walk a show in L.A., because that’s where I’m from. My whole family came, and my friends, and at the Wiltern, such an iconic location in L.A. It feels very quintessential Los Angeles. I feel like Hedi pulled a lot of inspiration from the L.A. lifestyle, like surf culture and skating culture, and I grew up in Malibu so that was very prevalent in my life. That show was just so cool. He had The Strokes and Iggy Pop. It was fun, it was close to my house, and I got to walk out with Hedi at the end, which was such an honor. It was like, if I never look cooler, I am okay with that. This can be the coolest I ever looked and that’s fine.
I just imagine the room smelling like champagne and cigarettes.
As it should, and it did. It was amazing, and I wore my sunglasses all night. It’s perfect. It’s totally L.A. He leans into it, and it’s funny that it takes a French person to nail L.A. style the way that he has, but I don’t think anyone has done it in the way that he has.
It takes an outsider perspective.
I know. I always look at Jane Birkin, or Francoise Hardy, these people who are so cool without ever trying. I mean, even if they were trying, you could never tell. It was not cool to look like you were trying. I think [with] Hedi’s clothes, you don’t have to try, because they do the work for you, and they don’t look like they’re trying at all.
Do you have any other plans while you’re here in Miami?
Not really. Walking. I love to walk around. My dad’s here so I’ll hang out with him.
Have you been to this area before?
Only to go to Mandolin to eat. But this Celine store is so beautiful, I haven’t seen this before. It’s stunning. It’s like a piece of art everywhere you look.
The stairway of mirrors back there, too.
I know, it’s scary. I scared myself, like who’s that? Oh, it’s me. I think it’s so beautiful. I feel like all of his stores, you walk in and you know immediately it’s designed by Hedi, which I really like. And it just feels expensive. It’s a nice, expensive place to sit in.
Kevin LeBlanc is the Fashion Associate at ELLE Magazine. He covers fashion news, trends, and anything to do with Robyn Rihanna Fenty.