After giving the first clues in June about where he might take Saint Laurent, new creative director Anthony Vaccarello has since released a variety of other hints by way of advertising materials. The 36-year-old Belgian joined the storied French house last April, succeeding Hedi Slimane, who rather notoriously revamped YSL’s ready-to-wear collection – editing the name, shooting the ad campaigns, designing the runway show sets, selecting the music and the “it” models, and of course, overseeing garment and accessory design.
Even before Vaccarello set forth his image for the brand, the house made is clear that it was done with Slimane; its Instagram account was wiped clean of all Slimane-era imagery, after all. And with the release of Vaccarello’s first campaign – it was even more obvious that he was making a statement of his own. “My Saint Laurent is not going to be Hedi Slimane’s Saint Laurent. It’s time to start afresh — kind of. That’s the fairly clear message from Anthony Vaccarello’s first public statement as creative director of YSL. Which is to say: his first ad campaign,” Vanessa Friedman wrote for the New York Times in June.
Vaccarello is to make his runway debut for Saint Laurent during Paris Fashion Week next month, and while much of what is to come in shrouded in mystery – there has been little more than mere glimpses of clothes, a hint of a t-shirt, a shoe, a pair of pants, in the aforementioned campaigns – what we do know is that things will look different. And we can expect change; changes in creative directors tends to bring just that. Having said that, Vaccarello is not expected to carry out another widespread reinvention of the house á la Slimane. In terms of aesthetic, however Vaccarello has quite a bit of freedom.
Speaking to BoF in April, Francesca Bellettini, YSL’s CEO said: “The brand will evolve under the creative direction of Anthony, who, like every creative director will be free to express his own creativity and the language of the brand in his own way, while always respecting the DNA of the maison.”
As for how different his aesthetic will be, it seems there is some shared ground. Vaccarello’s signature consists of “a combination of body-baring asymmetric lacing and leather that reflected his penchant for 1980s rock ’n’ roll … that may connect his aesthetic to that of Mr. Slimane’s Saint Laurent line.” However, as indicated by the clues we have – the black and white ad campaign images – the new Saint Laurent is both a bit of a far cry from the style of Vaccarello's eponymous label (which he has announced he is putting on hold to focus primarily on his duties at YSL), and Hedi Slimane's glitzed-out '80s maximalist vibe that so divided critics during his roughly 4 year tenure.
Friedman further noted in connection with the release of the initial Vaccarello for YSL campaign images that the new look is "paring down the fuss, the better to rebuild." And that rebuild is starting. As of this week the house has released a "Spring/Summer 2017 preview," pictured directly below, featuring Vaccarello muse, Anja Rubik.