In a move that surprised no one, Anthony Vaccarello was named to the helm of Saint Laurent after a recent announcement that Hedi Slimane would not be renewing his four-year contract with the brand. Slimane joins a younger cast of talented designers who have spent less than five years at major brands, alongside Raf Simons at Dior, Alexander Wang at Balenciaga, and Stefano Pilati at Zegna. Like his peers, Slimane chose to leave his position, but unlike his peers he did so at the height of financial success. Under Slimane’s leadership, the Saint Laurent brand grew at an astonishing rate: in just three years, sales more than doubled, and for the first time ever Saint Laurent became one of the few major labels to cross the billion-dollar threshold. In his time at Saint Laurent, he rewrote the brand in his own image, dropped “Yves” from the name, and commandeered the ship from Los Angeles – with the youthful cool of the city seeping into his every collection.
Saint Laurent’s parent company, Kering, is eager to repeat its success elsewhere within the company (most noticeably with Gucci). For that reason, it tapped Vaccarello to be Slimane’s successor. Slimane took huge strides to reposition the brand, so it will be interesting to see if Vaccarello follows in lock-step, or if he tries his own version of reinvention – although after Slimane’s costly renovations to the home of Saint Laurent’s new couturiers, Hôtel de Sénecterre, Kering may not be as elastic with the budget.
Regardless, Vaccarello is on a hot streak, having just resigned from his privileged post as head of Versus Versace, Donatella Versace’s young sister brand, which has been a prescient rainmaker when it comes to nurturing up-and-coming designers (previous posts were also held by Jonathan Anderson and Christopher Kane). In a statement to the press, Versace said, “While I’m sad to see him leave the Versace family, I wish Anthony Vaccarello tremendous success with his next chapter.”
His next chapter as Creative Director at Saint Laurent also begins with the end of Vaccarello’s eponymous label, which he chose to shutter in order to give his undivided attention to the task of running a billion-dollar, high-end luxury brand. He is scheduled to present his very first collection for the brand in October at Paris Fashion Week for Spring/Summer 2017. It is not yet known what Slimane will do now that he is a free agent, but he has padded his career with a healthy amount of artistic endeavors – most notably photography and music projects – and has built enough of a reputation as a visionary to sustain a burgeoning career in multiple artistic fields.