The New Face of Saint Laurent
After the recent announcement of Hedi Slimane’s departure by parent company Kering, aside from the questions asked as to his future (Chanel, Dior, or simply a hiatus being the three most talked about possibilities), the question on the fashion industry’s lips was: who’s next? Filling the shoes that Mr. Slimane left would be no easy task, given both the literal creative direction he took the brand in and the subsequent rebranding at his hands. Both of these facts were obviously taken into consideration by Kering, who in their press release stated that a successor would be “...communicated in due course.” Flash forward to three days later, and in another press release Kering officially announced Mr. Anthony Vaccarello as the new Creative Director of Saint Laurent.
Mr. Vaccarello’s name had been the most popular pick amongst those in the know ever since rumors of Mr. Slimane’s departure from the house surfaced, but nonetheless his appointment caused a stir within the industry. Was the 36 year old Italian-Belgian really the right choice for the house, and would the brand thrive at the same level it did under Mr. Slimane’s direction? Kering seemed to think so, with the president of Saint Laurent Francesca Bellettini citing his“...modern, pure aesthetic...” as “...the perfect fit” for the house. Lo and behold the Vaccarello era at the helm of Saint Laurent was ushered in.
Mr. Vaccarello is a relatively untested designer. His formal education took place at the revered “La Cambre” design academy in Brussels, after which he worked at Fendi for two years, then proceeded to show his namesake’s first collection in January of 2009. Other notable appointments include Creative Director of Versace’s diffusion line, Versace Versus, where he served from 2015 until recently.
His appointment has caused waves of skepticism within the fashion world, mine included. How can such a young, relatively unproven designer, with next to no previous experience in menswear design, fill the shoes that the widely revered Mr. Slimane left behind? Those concerned with his appointment shouldn’t despair just yet, because there are a few reasons as to why his appointment could not be the worst thing to happen to the brand. First of all, a quick look at his Fall/Winter 2016 namesake collection shows provocative, rock-influenced clothing, with asymmetrical hemlines, muted tones (namely a lot of black) and lots of sequins. These elements both show a subtle Slimane influence and a personal take on clothing that does not differ too much from the aesthetic that Mr. Slimane ushered in, which brings me to the second point. The extent of the rebranding at Mr. Slimane’s hands was so extensive that it would prove illogical to not, in some sense, follow almost exactly in his footsteps. He remodeled all of their retail spaces, hired new staff, and moved the design studio from Paris to Los Angeles, not to mention complete control of everything brand related, including the ad campaigns (which he all shot himself) and the brand’s Instagram (which has since been wiped of any trace of Mr. Slimane). Logic would follow that, instead of revamping the entire brand and brand image again, the direction that Mr. Vaccarello will take the brand in will not differ too much from the previous one, even though the ad campaigns will (presumably) not be shot by Mr. Slimane anymore and the design studio might once again be returned to Paris.
How all of this will translate to the future of the brand, especially how his designs will translate into menswear, will only be told by the test of time. So, until October, when Mr. Vaccarello will show his first collection for the brand during Paris Spring/Summer fashion week, the fashion world will await with baited breath the first glimpse of the future of Saint Laurent.
Vogue Paris, “Anthony Vaccarello”