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YSL: Atlas Mountain Tailoring

Godfrey Deeny
June 26th, 2010 @ 00:57 AM - Paris

That old saw that one cannot really invent anything new when it comes to men’s fashion should be tossed out the window any time one attends a collection for Yves Saint Laurent designed by Stefano Pilati, whose latest Atlas mountain chic show, unveiled Friday, June 25, in Paris, contained some rather revolutionary ideas.

First, he reinvented a little used item of a gentleman’s wardrobe, the plastron. Traditionally a bib that covers or is integrated into shirts, Pilati whipped up plastrons as formal scarves with small studs so they sat up and added structure to his summer tailoring take on YSL.

Another revolutionary idea was a jockstrap meets cummerbund that sounds crazy, perhaps, but they looked great. Thanks to the jockstrap, or athletic support, the cummerbund sat snugly across the torso, while an elastic back-strap flattened the stomach. In effect it was almost like a corset for gentlemen, but of the chicest sort.

Pilati also sent out a new fabric he called “Tweed d’Ete,” or summer tweed, which was made in various mixes of silk, cotton and super fine wool, yet looked and hung like tweed.

“I wanted tailoring that was rigorous but light, precise but also forgiving,” Pilati – with new eagle feather neck tattoo - said post show, as he proudly displayed the collection on backstage racks.

This relatively small show, just 25 looks, also contained the most elegant suit of the European season so far, an abstract check double-breasted jacket and trim, double pleat pant ensemble that had great poise, and novelty.

Pilati also had time to design a smart new sandal, with Doc Marten’s style foam rubber soles that will be highly influential.

Not many men will necessarily have the gall to wear this collection as it was styled on the runway, but the show’s images and sensibility marked it out as a coolly cerebral fashion moment.

Presented in YSL’s showroom on rue d’Artois, a tony townhouse in Paris’ plush 8th arrondissement, the collection had a rather Algerian vibe – which made sense, seeing Saint Laurent was born there in the coastal city of Oran. Its opening looks, for instance, featured models wearing woven fez hats. One could easily imagine gents in these clothes anywhere from an Atlas mountain cafe to a deal-closing meeting in Tokyo. Innovative fashion for the innovative modern globetrotter.

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