“I wanted something more fresh, less dark, and more graphic.” —Anthony Vaccarello

Since he started his eponymous line in 2008, Anthony Vaccarello’s name has been synonymous with sex. It might have something to do with the barely there, torso-and-hipbone-baring white satin gown that model Anja Rubik wore to the Met Gala in 2012 or his recent appointment as creative director of Versus Versace, where he works one-on-one with Donatella Versace, who knows a thing or two about cutting a provocative silhouette. But aside from his affinity for thigh-grazing miniskirts and body-conscious dresses with cutouts that seem to defy gravity (strategically engineered through his fastidious tailoring) and a clientele that includes J. Lo and Charlotte Gainsbourg, Vaccarello is quick to insist, “Of course, when models wear it, it’s sexy, but I don’t think about making a sexy skirt or a sexy dress. It’s more about finding limits to play with, trying to find a new line or a new attitude.”

The 34-year-old Belgian-born designer got his start in the business immediately after graduating from La Cambre in Brussels in 2006, winning the Grand Prix at the Hyères fashion festival with his all-leather thesis collection and landing at Fendi shortly thereafter, where he designed furs under Karl Lagerfeld. He relocated to Paris to get his own line up and running, and soon his sharp LBDs were catching the eyes of models and editors. In 2011 Vaccarello nabbed the prestigious ANDAM Fashion Award, an honor given to the likes of Maison Martin Margiela and Jeremy Scott.

Living and working on separate floors of a building in Le Marais, Vaccarello has been evolving his singular aesthetic. “I wanted something more fresh, less dark, and more graphic,” he says of his spring/summer collection, a sporty romp of nautical and branding influences, which featured a Vaccarello first-print, realized through manipulating stripes and logos of his name and the word spring in various sizes and scales. He attributes the experimentation with his own label to his time spent in Milan at the Versus atelier, where working with the brand brought him back to watching Versace’s runway shows on Italian television as a child, when founder Gianni was at the helm. “It’s very emotional,” Vaccarello explains. “When you enter that house, you are submerged in the code they create. You cannot not be inspired by it.”