Whatever they’re putting in the Perrier and Pellegrino over in Paris and Milan is making fashion houses antsy. From Alexander Wang at Balenciaga to Hedi Slimane at Saint Laurent and Alber Elbaz at Lanvin, the biggest names in fashion are getting replaced at a rate of knots.
It all started with Alessandro Michele, who transformed the aesthetic (and the revenue stream) at Gucci when he replaced Frida Giannini early last year (see his controversial pre-spring/summer 2017 fashion show for Gucci). Other brands wanted to follow suit with the same promise of success – these three brands in particular.
It’s one of the biggest gigs in Paris and it’s gone to Anthony Vaccarello, who is still relatively unknown outside of fashion circles. But when the shy 36-year-old Belgian designer was chosen to take the reigns at Saint Laurent, the entire industry nodded its head in approval.
Previously at Versus Versace, Vaccarello is famous for being terribly sexy. Not him personally (though we do rather like that soulful, stubbly look), but his clothes. From skirts with thigh-high splits to slinky scarlet gowns, his designs would horrify your grandmother, but would delight every man in a 200km radius.
Slimane, who was creative director of Saint Laurent for four years, was known for his punk, grunge-soaked collections of bomber jackets, skinny jeans and mini-dresses. But with Vaccarello in the driver’s seat, we imagine a more womanly and sensual rock chick sitting on the passenger’s side. Only time will tell, but we’re awfully excited to find out.
Alber Elbaz was at Lanvin for 14 years, and his recent departure led to strikes across the brand. So, needless to say, there is a tough act to follow. But, if anyone can handle being the new girl it’s Bouchra Jarrar. Her impressive CV includes stints working as head of haute couture at Christian Lacroix and as studio director at Balenciaga. Since 2010, she has focussed on her eponymous label and her crisp, sharp collections have become a highlight at couture week.
But don’t think she’s just a one-note couture designer, who can put you in an exquisite gown, but not much else. Jarrar’s designs are infinitely wearable and made for women with lives that are about more than just yachts and cocktail parties (although those are definitely allowed, too). ‘It is my intention to bring Lanvin the harmony and consistency of a fashion designed for women – a fashion of our time,’ she says.
Alessandro Sartori rejoining the team at Zegna is kind of like that couple you know who split up, dated other people, but eventually realised how perfect they were for each other and got married like they were always supposed to. Before joining Berluti in 2011, Sartori spent eight happy years as head designer of Z Zegna, the Italian brand’s second line. He left when Antoine Arnault lured him away to develop vintage shoemaker Berluti – and develop it he definitely did. Under his watch, Berluti went from being a bespoke atelier to a major international player with nearly 50 stores worldwide.
And now Zegna is hoping he’ll work the same magic on home turf in his new role as artistic director of the entire brand. ‘I am extremely excited to work with the whole Zegna team over the next chapter,’ says Sartori. ‘I cannot wait to enter their fabulous archives and to meet their artisans to start working on the new collections.’