Saint Laurent's New Creative Director Is Anthony Vaccarello, As Expected

Photo: Victor VIRGILE/ Gamma-Rapho/ Getty Images.
It's official: Anthony Vaccarello is succeeding Hedi Slimane as creative director at Saint Laurent. Vaccarello will start the major new role immediately, and he'll have to work pretty fast, as his first collection will debut in October during spring 2017 Paris Fashion Week.

Slimane's departure, which was confirmed on Friday by Saint Laurent's parent company, Kering, wasn't completely out of left field. Rumors circulated for the past two or so months about his imminent farewell, and about the high possibility of Vaccarello subsequently taking the reigns.

"His modern, pure aesthetic is the perfect fit for the maison," Saint Laurent's CEO, Francesa Belletini, said in a Kering statement released this afternoon. "Anthony Vaccarello impeccably balances elements of provocative femininity and sharp masculinity in his silhouettes. He is the natural choice to express the essence of Yves Saint Laurent."

Vaccarello launched his eponymous line in 2008, with very sexy, cutout-ridden, often asymmetrical LBDs as his signature staple. Before launching his own label, the 36-year-old designer spent time at Fendi. Three years ago, the Belgian-bred talent joined Versus Versace as a guest designer, and in September 2015, was bumped up to creative director of the edgy Versace offshoot, which has become known as an incubator or rite of passage of sorts for talented, buzzy-but-still-indie designers. To wit: Jonathan Anderson and Christopher Kane have both spent time there prior to making their respective industry ascents.

This morning, all signs pointed to the fact that Vaccarello was Slimane's heir apparent at Saint Laurent, when Versace sent out a statement about Vaccarello's departure from Versus. "While I'm sad to see him leave the Versace family, I wish Anthony Vaccarello tremendous success with his next chapter," Donatella Versace said in the statement. "In the past several years, I have worked with three great young talents on Versus Versace... I'm proud that Versus can be such a remarkable global platform for emerging design talent."

Vacarello's aesthetic, as evidenced in his own label as well as his Versus collections, makes a whole lot of sense for the saucy, '80s-referencing Saint Laurent era Slimane ushered in. And apparently, Vaccarello thinks pretty highly of his predecessor's approach to design, based on an interview in Harper's Bazaar's latest issue released today (obviously conducted well before Vaccarello was officially in at Saint Laurent). "I have a lot of respect for [Slimane], doing what he believes in. He doesn’t give a shit. I think [his work at YSL] is great," Vaccarello told Bazaar.

It's been an exceptionally robust round of creative director musical chairs in recent months, especially at some of the most significant, venerable Parisian houses. The upper-management creative changes have included sort-of-surprising appointment of Vetements' Demna Gvesalia at Balenciaga, another Kering-owned brand. But we're still waiting to find out where Alber Elbaz and Raf Simons, the former creative directors at Lanvin and Dior, respectively, will land. (And whom Dior will tap for the very high-stakes role of helming the house in Simons' absence.) So, anticipate the shuffling of big talents at top-tier labels to continue for the foreseeable future.

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