NEW YORK • The fashion world's game of musical chairs continues.
Anthony Vaccarello, most recently the creative director of Versus Versace - the younger, funkier sibling brand of Versace and, of late, an incubator of up-and-coming designers - has been named the new creative director of Yves Saint Laurent.
Vaccarello, a 36-year-old Italian- Belgian designer, succeeds Hedi Slimane, whose long-rumoured departure from Yves Saint Laurent, owned by the Paris-based group Kering, was made official last Friday.
Announcing the choice on Monday, Ms Francesca Bellettini, president and chief executive of Yves Saint Laurent, said of Vaccarello: "His modern, pure aesthetic is the perfect fit for the maison."
Vaccarello, who had been the creative director of Versus Versace for a little over a year, announced his departure a few hours before the news about Yves Saint Laurent was made official.
Donatella Versace, vice-president of the Versace Group, said in a statement: "While I'm sad to see him leave the Versace family, I wish Anthony Vaccarello tremendous success with his next chapter."
Vaccarello founded his own brand in 2009, but will suspend that line to "devote himself fully to Saint Laurent", according to a spokesman for the brand. He will be responsible for womenswear, menswear, the couture line revived by Slimane and the image of the brand.
His name first surfaced as a possible replacement for Slimane in January. He deflected the gossip as "a rumour" last month at his last show during Paris Fashion Week, which was marked by a combination of body-baring asymmetric lacing and leather that reflected his penchant for 1980s rock 'n' roll, and that may connect his aesthetic to that of Slimane's Saint Laurent line.
Certainly, he is not expected to carry out another wholesale reinvention of the house in the manner of Slimane, who redesigned not only the stores, but also the furniture in the stores; photographed the advertising campaigns himself; and dropped the "Yves" from the name of the ready-to-wear line.
Unlike Slimane, who based himself in Los Angeles, Vaccarello is based in Paris.
He will present his first collection for Yves Saint Laurent in October, during the spring 2017 shows of Paris Fashion Week.
Though most of the attention will now be on his plans for the Saint Laurent label, his ascension further bolsters Versace's position as something of a talent spotter and Versus as a potent launchpad for other designers.
Versace signed British designer Jonathan Anderson for Versus in 2013 - just months before he became creative director of the Spanish brand Loewe, owned by LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, which also took a minority stake in his J.W. Anderson brand.
Before Anderson, Christopher Kane was the creative director of Versus from 2009 to 2012 and Kering bought a majority stake in his brand.
"In each instance, their time on Versus Versace led to them making a huge advancement in their design career," Versace said in her statement, suggesting that she seemed to be embracing with gusto her role as a nurturer of the next generation.
"I appreciated the chance to work with each of these three designers and I enjoyed seeing what they brought to a brand I truly love," she said. "I'm proud that Versus can be such a remarkable global platform for emerging design talent."
Versus has proved not just a petri dish for designers, but also one for approaches. Under Vaccarello, Versus embraced the see-now/ sell-now model that is gaining traction in the fashion world and, last September, made its clothes available for sale as soon as they were shown on the runway.
The decision contributed to the Versace Group's 17.5 per cent increase in revenue last year.
Announcing the annual results last month, Mr Gian Giacomo Ferraris, Versace Group's chief executive, singled out Vaccarello's Versus Versace, noting retail sales more than doubled compared with 2014, while wholesale revenue was up 21.4 per cent.
All of which raises the stakes for whoever replaces Vaccarello at Versus, as well as for Versace to continue her winning streak.
Versace will say only that she will be "surprising everybody" with the announcement.
NEW YORK TIMES