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New recruit Bouchra Jarrar.

For the spring season, Paris was burning — with designer debuts at heritage brands. These included new creative directors at Dior and Yves Saint Laurent, reprising a scenario four years ago and signaling a quickening pace for fashion’s game of musical chairs. Here’s a synopsis of new beginnings in the French capital.

This story first appeared in the November 9, 2016 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

 

Pierpaolo Piccioli, Valentino

Assumed the Mantle
From codesigner Maria Grazia Chiuri, who joined Dior as its seventh couturier.

Background
Had been co-creative director with Chiuri. He earned a reputation for designing covetable “It” bags with her at Fendi. The duo were recruited to design accessories at Valentino in 2007 and took over as co-creative directors a year later.

Known for
Chiuri and Piccioli plied a chaste, romantic and graceful femininity with Renaissance airs, exemplified by their high-necked, fragile gowns.

In His Own Words
“I think my idea of beauty comes from Piero della Francesca, the idea of late 15th century. I think this is a moment where people are looking for emotions.”
Critical Reception

Bridget Foley, WWD
“In his on-my-own debut, he made the case exquisitely that Valentino’s creative future is in good hands.”

Suzy Menkes, International Vogue
“Pierpaolo showed his strength as the romantic of the pair.”

Robin Givhan, The Washington Post
“More relaxed, a little sharper and more firmly rooted in the day-to-day of shoulder-bumping sidewalks, frantic commutes and other messiness.”

Sarah Mower, Vogue
“Perhaps the romantic dresses were predictably of the house, though still stunning in all their variety. What was more striking was Piccioli’s daywear.”

Vanessa Friedman, The New York Times
“If there was a notably pure Piccioli difference, it may have involved a softening of the line and the mood; a reduction of the strict puritanical edge that had provided the label some tension in the past.”

Bouchra JarrarLanvin

Succeeded
Alber Elbaz, who was ousted in October 2015 after a stellar 14-year tenure that had begun to stall.

Background
Founder of one of Paris’ smallest and newest couture houses, after a career spent at Christian Lacroix and Balenciaga.

Known For
Sleek and exacting tailoring tinged with elements of bondage and fantastical feathers.

First Effort, In Her Own Words
“I’ve been chosen for one thing: This is to be me, to make what I am, and I am interested in making fashion of today. So it’s Bouchra Jarrar for Lanvin. It’s Bouchra inspired by Lanvin.”
Critical Reception

Bridget Foley, WWD
“Jarrar’s first collection for the house was a study in unstuffy chic. It may also have been a study in savvy, as well….It was smart for Jarrar to announce her arrival at Lanvin by doing Bouchra.”

Cathy Horyn, The Cut
“The challenge for Jarrar is to break out of her mental jail of needing structure in a garment and instead dig into what made Lanvin such a modern feminine force.”

Sarah Mower, Vogue
“She probably needs to work more on figuring out what a new Lanvin dress means to a modern woman, but she has plenty of time for that.”

Robin Givhan, The Washington Post
“Jarrar’s collection was gorgeous despite the difficulties of dealing with an atelier of artisans, loyal to Elbaz, that imploded after his departure.”
Maria Grazia Chiuri, Dior

Succeeded
Raf Simons, who is to debut as Calvin Klein’s new creative director early in 2017.

Background
Earned a reputation for designing covetable “It” bags with Pierpaolo Piccioli at Fendi. The duo were recruited to design accessories at Valentino in 2007 and took over as co-creative directors a year later.

Known for
As a duo, Chiuri and Piccioli created Valentino’s romantic, graceful, feminine looks.

First effort, in her own words
“I want to introduce into the house of Dior a natural attitude, to dress women to feel comfortable, to feel their beauty.”
Critical Reception

Robin Givhan, The Washington Post
“In a straightforward manner, Chiuri simply voiced her consideration of gender inequities, whether within the highest ranks of business — including the fashion industry — or the way masculinity provides a default template of authority.”

Bridget Foley, WWD
“Chiuri proclaimed her ascent boldly and even aggressively, not in the look of the clothes, but in her attention to daytime dressing of a sort that has never taken hold at Dior.”

Cathy Horyn, The Cut
“I just hope that Chiuri drops the sloganeering and gets down to making her couture sisters proud — by creating compelling clothes. What I did admire about her first collection was that she widened Dior’s lens.”

Sarah Mower, Vogue
“What emerged wasn’t a predictable chocolate-box repackaging of ladylike house codes, but a refreshingly widened viewpoint, inclusive of the sporty and the fragile.”

Suzy Menkes, International Vogue
“Grazia handles Dior haute couture — whether she brings in the high romance and dense workmanship as seen at Valentino — it is difficult to judge this ready-to-wear show.”
Anthony VaccarelloSaint Laurent

Succeeded
Hedi Slimane, who is now embroiled in lawsuits with Kering, YSL’s parent, over the circumstances of his exit.

Background
Launched his Paris-based signature brand in 2008 — and put it on ice to focus on the house that Yves built.

Known for
Sharp, asymmetric tailoring and saucy dresses — not far from the aesthetic Slimane plied during his rock ‘n’ roll-tinged tenure.

First effort, in his own words
“A bit of bad taste.” He explained that he wished to capture the essence of YSL as the brilliant young renegade, before time and demons redirected his fashion into bourgeois familiarity.
Critical Reception

Bridget Foley, WWD
“Chic? No. Instagram heroin? For sure. In that sense, Vaccarello picked up where Slimane exited: with an audacious runway that will distill into recognizable merch.”

Cathy Horyn, The Cut
“Vaccarello’s brand of sexiness, while certainly salable, has been around the block a few times. He took some classic YSL shapes — the dippy sweetheart neckline, the poufy couture sleeve, the sleek tuxedo and the one-shoulder dress — and essentially whittled them down.”

Suzy Menkes, International Vogue
“Brash, bold and mostly dressing for the night. Vaccarello’s skill was not in keeping up with the Kardashians, but in presenting his collection with an exuberant, witty energy.”

Robin Givhan, The Washington Post
“The clothes looked rich, but it’s hard to say that they were all beautiful, because in some ways beauty is something that is soothing to the eye, and this collection was focused on upheaval.”

Sarah Mower, Vogue
“It’s too soon to call a verdict on Vaccarello in his new role; the job in this massive brand is as much directing teams and generating myriad ideas for merchandise as it is designing.”

Vanessa Friedman, The New York Times
“Mr. Vaccarello dove into the YSL of the Eighties for his introductory effort, eschewing the usual tropes of safari suiting, gypsies and Mondrian.”

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