Anthony Vaccarello: His name sounds as sexy as the designs he's become synonymous with. The first Saint Laurent ads since Vaccarello's arrival as creative director, succeeding Hedi Slimane, have arrived, and they signal a bold redirection for the brand. The 36-year-old Brussels-born Italian designer credits Versace as the greatest influence on his craft. How nice, then, that after working with Karl Lagerfeld at Fendi post-grad, Vaccarello got a call from Donatella Versace herself in 2013. During his tenure at Versace's diffusion line, Versus, the collections were all about unapologetically saucy bodycon silhouettes. Inspired by the photography of Helmut Newton and Herb Ritts, Vaccarello's signature aesthetic is very sexually charged. At Versus, Bella Hadid waltzed down his catwalks in cutaway LBDs, and Hollywood's finest have hit the red carpets in his monochrome thigh-high-slit creations.
So, the first images from the house under Vaccarello's guidance are quite unexpected. Shot in Paris by the American artist Collier Schorr, the portraits are a far cry from both Vaccarello's style, and Hedi Slimane's glitzed-out '80s maximalist vibe that so divided critics. The black-and-white pictures capture 15 new faces, and the focus is very much on the faces. What we can see of the clothes — virtually nothing (a black bra, maybe, possibly a white T-shirt) — would suggest Vaccarello has stripped things down, well, quite a lot. The New York Times' Vanessa Friedman aptly characterized the new look as "paring down the fuss, the better to rebuild." The images look more like a Calvin Klein campaign from the '90s than the work of a man known for his “sexy, dynamic [and] audacious” flair (as Donatella described it to British Vogue).