The Artist Banks Violette Is Bringing Hedi Slimane’s Punk Fantasy to Life

All photos courtesy of Celine.

Last week, Celine Homme presented its Fall/Winter 22 collection, Boy Doll, at L’Olympia Bruno Coquatrix—Paris’ legendary music venue. Debuting on the theater’s sprawling stage with a soundtrack courtesy of Swedish punk mainstay SHITKID, Boy Doll reframes the house’s love of fluid, glam-punk-meets-Berlin-wave designs for a new era. Full leather looks, mirror-slick hair, and shield-like sunglasses signal Celine’s nod to the e-boy aesthetics of an increasingly genderless fashion moment. Creative director Hedi Slimane tapped eight visual artists to contribute graphic works to the collection. One of those artists is Banks Violette, Slimane’s longtime friend and collaborator, whose paintings draw heavily on the death metal and punk subcultures that defined his youth. Slimane selected two images—a black flag and a galloping stallion—from Violette’s oeuvre for Boy Doll. Here, Violette tells us all about his death metal roots, keeping up with his teenagers, and working with Slimane.


SOPHIE LEE: How’s your day going? 

VIOLETTE: My day’s been great. My wife is out of town, and so are my two teenage stepdaughters. So, I’ve had a really quiet house, which is great. Normally, there would be a lot going on in the background during this interview. 

LEE: How did you first meet Hedi Slimane? I read it was in New York.

VIOLETTE: Honestly, I don’t remember! It was a long time ago. I think we met around the time of my show at the Whitney, when he was still at Dior. I’ve known him for a while, and he’s always been really supportive of my work. I worked with him, along with a bunch of other artists, to design a bunch of Dior stores. I ended up doing the one in Osaka. So, I’ve known him a long time.

LEE: What was your process for working on this collection?

VIOLETTE: Hedi made a selection from my older images, and I was totally happy with his using them. I made two drawings, which I think he ended up using as well. It’s one of those things: if you see a poorly reproduced image of something that you made, that you have a lot of affection for, it’s going to irritate you. But these designs were based on works that I was excited to see reproduced in some other material. 

LEE: The two pieces you mention are an American flag and a white horse. 

VIOLETTE: Right. The American flag is an older image, and the horse is one of the newer drawings that I made. They both totally work.  

LEE: Of the three Celine looks that have those images on them, do you have a favorite?

VIOLETTE: Not particularly. I’ve always admired Hedi’s aesthetic, no matter what he’s doing. He’s kind of like a Dick Hebdige, you know? He pulls from all these references that I really respond to, and he manages to assemble them in a way I would never have thought of myself.  It’s cool to be involved in that process. That makes me totally thrilled. 

LEE: Punk fashion and e-boy fashion influenced this collection. Are you familiar with e-boys?

VIOLETTE: I have teenagers, so yes. 

LEE: So they filled you in on the e-boys. What do you make of those younger elements of the collection? 

VIOLETTE: I love that stuff. I’ve got my own history with subcultures. It’s something I’ve always been fascinated by. Seeing those cultures refracted and revived by a younger group of people, it’s great. I don’t live in New York City anymore, and one of the most difficult things about moving outside the city—I’m in the middle of nowhere in upstate New York—is it’s harder to find inspiration. Like, I’m not going to be inspired by a tree. Seeing a kid on the subway who has decorated their backpack some crazy way, now THAT is a huge idea generator. Being removed from that environment has caused a really big shift. 

LEE: What subcultures did you associate with as a teenager? 

VIOLETTE: I was a goofy, punk-rock kid. I was into all the hardcores—New York hardcore, straight edge hardcore, stuff like that. I had a lot of friends who played in bands and had record labels. That’s my guilty background. 

Banks Violette. Photo courtesy of the artist.

LEE: There’s a big post-punk resurgence happening right now. 

VIOLETTE: There seem to be all these new bands that are, like, the fifth generation of artists making music from the “I’m a deeply emotional punk-rock kid in my garage” perspective. Which is great. This stuff, has a weird currency to it. It just keeps coming back, and coming back, and coming back. 

LEE: Is there anyone that you would love to see wear this collection? Who do you envision wearing something that has your work on it?

VIOLETTE: I’m obligated to say this. My ex-wife, Alissa Bennett, works at Gladstone. She used to be a model—and she also used to be a punk rocker, so she loves this stuff. I’m super enthusiastic about being involved with this collection, and she’s giddy about it. So I’ve got to say Alissa. I know that would make her happy.