The French label has a new creative director who will replace the controversial and innovative Heidi Slimane, following the trend of replacing new design stars very few years.
By Walter Raymond
Designer Anthony Vaccarello takes over as new creative director of Yves Saint Laurent, a position vacated by the controversial Hedi Slimane in early April. In a statement about Vacarello`s arrival, the house praised him as "one of the most talented emerging creative spirits of our time"
Previously, the Belgian designer of Italian origin was director of Versus Versace— the youthful line of the Italian firm. He was also in charge of his eponymous line, which will be discontinued after he joins Yves Saint Laurent
YSL President Francesca Bellettini said: "I am delighted that Anthony Vaccarello will join us as creative director. The modernity and purity of his aesthetics are in perfect harmony with the spirit of the brand.
The new director, 36, will be in charge of women’s and men’s wear, as well as the brand’s image and the couture line—which was renovated by Slimane. The designer will present his first collection for YSL in October 2016 in Paris, during the Spring-Summer 2017 Fashion Week.
The French Maison declined to release the reasons for Slimane`s resignation, who will be leaving after four successful years leading the brand.
Slimane is not the only major designer to take such a momentous decision. In recent months, several creators disassociated themselves from their brands after contributing to their growth. Alexander Wang left Balenciaga and Raf Simmons did the same at Christian Dior, both after three years of helping or renovation the brands. Zegna, a mostly-menswear label, also felt the jolt of a new era with the departure of Stefano Pilati.
However, François-Henri Pinault— the executive president of Kering (the parent company of YSL, Gucci, Balenciaga, Boucheron, and Alexander McQueen, among other luxury brands) — played down the situation. When he was asked about the implications of these changes, he said, "It's part of the normal life cycle in today`s world.
The hand of the creator.
The distinctive mark of each brand always comes from the people who create the ideas and make them work. The directors are also designers who provide the creative and personalized touch that distinguish them in the competitive world of fashion. In the case of Yves Saint Laurent, Hedi Slimane joined the firm in 2012 taking control of the creative line and the brand image. The result was a total renovation of their company identity, which also helped YSL to establish a connection with the public`s younger segment.
That success was also reflected in the company`s finances, which saw its revenue duplicate. In 2015, they reached around € 1,000 billion (about US $1.126 million). François-Henri Pinault acknowledged that contribution when he learned about the director`s departure: "I am very grateful to Slimane and the entire team of Yves Saint Laurent because they led the way to ensure the longevity of this legendary brand.”
Anthony Vaccarello Versus
The short-term thrust
The leading fashion labels have built their reputation over several decades. Currently, most of their founders and creators are gone, and their firms have been bought by large groups or private companies that turn to new designers as creative directors. This has generated significant stylistic changes in the industry, and the constant renewal and creativity have driven the economic success of the big brands.
Due to this fast and demanding pace, major contracts do not exceed three years. The new strategies are keeping the firms relevant to the new generations while maintaining classic buyers, something Yves Saint Laurent has successfully achieved. ■
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