[PARIS] Belgian designer Anthony Vaccarello took over Monday as creative director of Yves Saint Laurent, three days after the departure of the hugely influential Hedi Slimane.
His appointment, which had been rumoured for weeks after Mr Slimane dropped some heavy hints of his exit, is a calculated risk for the French label, which has seen profits skyrocket under the man credited with reviving skinny jeans.
After Mr Slimane's rock star chic, 36-year-old Mr Vaccarello will bring a sexy, leggy look which he has developed since he first came to fame with a collection inspired by the Hungarian-Italian porn actress turned politician la Cicciolina.
Mr Vaccarello's "modern, pure aesthetic is the perfect fit," YSL's CEO Francesca Bellettini said.
He "impeccably balances elements of provocative femininity and sharp masculinity in his silhouettes," she added.
YSL's parent company Kering said Mr Vaccarello, who has served as Versus Versace's creative director for more than a year, had "long been recognised as one of the most talented emerging creative minds of our time".
The rumour mill has been working overtime since Mr Slimane left, with many fashion insiders convinced that Mr Vaccarello would succeed him.
The young designer, who comes from an Italian family, had quit Versace's Versus label earlier Monday.
Making the announcement, Donatella Versace seemed to hint that Mr Vaccarello was going on to greater things.
"In the past several years, I have worked with three great young talents on Versus Versace, Christopher Kane, JW Anderson and Anthony Vaccarello," she said in a statement.
Scottish-born Kane's own brand has since been bought by Kering, while Irishman Anderson now heads the Spanish luxury label Loewe.
Mr Vaccarello's typically monochrome dresses, often with plunging necklines, have an almost wild edge to them, and have won him major fashion prizes, including the top prize at the Hyeres festival.
Although his designs may be sexy and confident, he has a personal reputation for shyness.
He worked for Karl Lagerfeld at Fendi before setting up his own brand in 2009 and becoming a regular fixture of Paris fashion weeks.
While YSL has prospered under Mr Slimane, with profits rising from 353 million euros (S$543.7 million) in 2011 to 707 million euros in 2014, it had been clear for some time that all was not well.
Industry insiders claimed talks on renewing his contract had stalled, with the designer snubbing the Paris catwalk to hold his last menswear show in his adopted home of Los Angeles.
Mr Slimane won an array of celebrity fans including Lady Gaga, Angelina Jolie, Kate Hudson, Amal Clooney, Jared Leto and Justin Bieber.
But the 47-year-old Parisian was accused by some of denigrating Saint Laurent's hallowed legacy with his grungy rock star chic, inspired by the American west coast music scene.