Vaccarello takes the reigns at YSL

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When it was announced that Hedi Slimane was leaving Yves Saint Laurent, the first thing on everyone’s minds was who on earth they were going to get to replace him with as creative director. Who was going to step into such large shoes (probably suede Chelsea boots) after Slimane’s move from Dior Homme to YSL in 2012 resulted in an incredible quadrupling of revenue for Saint Laurent at the end of his four-year appointment? With a revenue of approximately €700 million, Slimane turned the floundering fashion house he arrived at into the most successful company of the Kering group, that also includes the likes of Balenciaga, Gucci and Stella McCartney. Under Hedi’s revolution, not only did the ‘Yves’ controversially disappear from the name of the ready-to-wear line, but the collections were transformed to become decidedly more approachable; creating styles that followed his signature slim line approach to clothing , albeit with a rock star twist. Having been attracted by Slimane’s trademark leather jackets and refined ‘biker’ style, YSL now touts celebrity clients from Cara Delevigne and Angelina Jolie to Harry Styles. These clients are undoubtedly a chief cause of the economic and commercial turnaround that YSL has seen over the past four years. It would seem like madness therefore to appoint a new head of design that moved too far away from the style that has bought Saint Laurent to the forefront of current style.

To all appearances the newly appointed Anthony Vaccarello would seem therefore a fairly sensible choice. Although clearing the entirety of Slimane’s work from the design house’s Instagram page is not the best way to comfort the avid followers of Hedi, I believe this social media cleanse is not a sign of a complete overhaul of the brand’s image, as seen in the change of hands at Gucci. As the previous creative director at Versus Versace, Vaccarello has learnt under the hands of one the best, Versace having previously hosted Jonathan Anderson and Christopher Kane as creative directors, both of whom have gone on to launch successful companies in their own rights.

Vaccarello, a prodigal Italian-Belgian designer who has provided an economic boost to Versace’s revenue, has long been rumoured to become Slimane’s replacement. His show in Paris last March embodied the rock and roll 1980s feel that is key to YSL’s success through daring work with leather and lace; perhaps a further clue that he will not stray far in his new appointment. Having being praised for his work to create a provocative grunge aesthetic at Versace, the models in his last show baring bikini tan lines as the hems were so short, when Vaccarello showcases his first collection for YSL this October, I expect to see the injection of the same daring hemlines alongside his minimalistic approach. The bold intricacies of Vaccarello’s style may indeed therefore succeed in creating and adding to what the president of YSL, Francesca Belletini, has described as “provocative femininity.” In layman’s terms, what we (and YSL’s accountant) hope for, is a continuation of Slimane’s legacy, but showing a little or a lot more skin. Daring enough to make his mark, but not a total refurbishment that would risk scaring the legions of loyal YSL fans away. Bonne chance Vaccarello- the world is watching and waiting.

Image: Damien Roué via flickr.com

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