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.

Yves Saint Laurent's Cool, Courtly Spring

Godfrey Deeny
October 03rd, 2011 @ 2:25 PM - Paris

One week after The New York Times suggested that Stefano Pilati was about to be replaced as creative director of Yves Saint Laurent, the designer responded by staging the most refined collection seen so far this season in Paris.

Courtly, voluminous and made in some stiff and substantial fabrics this was an extremely smart selection of impeccably cut clothes where the injection of contrasting elements of sporty gear and medieval amulets made for a highly memorable show on Monday, Oct. 3.

Pilati is an important designer for many reasons, at least three of which were prominently displayed in this spring 2012 collection presented in an opulent Rothschild family mansion in the poshest corner of the 16th arrondissement, Paris' richest neighborhood. This is a designer who cuts and drapes with class, as was clear in his very brilliant opening - from graceful blouses whose backs billowed with just the right amount of movement to arching A-line coats that had a dramatic air yet gave the impression the lady wearing them must be slim.

Let's also not forget that this house's founder is still considered the greatest single colorist in fashion, thanks to his ability to harmoniously combine very diverse bright colors. Pilati is no slouch in that department either, for he mines the classic purples and emeralds of YSL, yet somehow with enough variation that they respect the visual canons of this label even as they smartly subvert them.

Finally, in an industry were a truly remarkable amount of very talented designers hire stylists almost like visual psychiatrists, solving their design phobias and radically altering their vision, Pilati refuses to employ one. Nor should he, for in many ways, YSL is the best styled show in fashion. The models looked beautifully precise in this show, with exact ruby lipstick, barely there make up and refined chignons, finished at the back with mini armadillo gold semi-circles. The same gold plate was used to wrap high-heels with Restoration style loops in a great series of new architectural footwear.

In an assured display of just 27 looks, the designer climaxed the show with a quartet of black chiffon red carpet looks and jumpsuits finished with a great new technique, sequin dust, making for a beautifully sexy and fresh new invention.

"Sequins have grown to be as big as your fist, so to me the most radical new direction was this. Dust!" said the designer with a huge chortle.

Pilati varied the fabrics enormously in this show, from barely there flighty silks used in super light cocktail dresses with angled ruffles to stiff woolen and silk mixes for the courtly emerald coats finished with gold medallion buttons.

"Go figure, I was designing this collection in July in the coldest summer in France in decades, and I get to show it during a heatwave," laughed Pilati, as small mob of fans waited to embrace him.

In a word, so much for those rumors about him leaving.

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