29 Feb Yves Saint Laurent
Paris – In an age when the vast majority of designers are hired guns for fashion labels whose founders are retired in some considerable comfort, it was refreshing to see the exhilaratingly beautiful fall 2008 collection of Yves Saint Laurent the happy result of creative director Stefano Pilati having the guts and the gall to really go for it.
Part futurist vision, part dashing exercise in tailoring, this was as original a collection as you are likely to see, based on a wonderful new, broad shouldered, loose cut jacket, curvy, jodhpur like pants, worn over night club warrior patent leather boots.
One typically spectacular look wafted down the runway of the Grand Palais on model Olga Scherer, an asymmetrically cut biker jacket in a tough industrial leather with a chain mail choker and mega high brown velvet pants – a great head turning moment yet a completely credible fashion statement.
Pilati’s sense of how to use volume as a flattering design element rather than a designer’s ego statement was also admirable – with mannish Jesuit sleeved white shirts, peplum flounced tunics or fiendishly well-cut wrap skirts.
This show should also bury a frequent criticism of Pilati, that is clothes age women a little; for his twirling cuts, tough chic finish and sense of gal in control proportions kept the mood very youthful.
Take the cocktail worn by Lily Donaldson, a mauve silk look with tight torso, bubble skirt and humungous black belt that would work on a granny or a teenage gal.
Made in blacks and grays, with hints of turquoise, electric blue and the designer’s fetish pale yellow, the palette was as coherent as the collection.
And, being Stefano, there had to be an absurdist artistic twist, such as his triple of coats and dresses, made it seemed of fishing flies sewn onto the fabric.
“I mean at this point if I don’t send down the catwalk my inner instincts and what comes from gut, well what’s the point?” Pilati told FWD at a post-show party in new club Sens.
On stellar example of Pilati’s growing self-confidence is the fact that he styles his collection’s himself – practically no designers skip the crutch of an independent stylist – and the result was the best styled show in Paris this year. Models appeared in mop-top black wigs, their eyes largely hidden, and with midnight blue lipstick making for a memorable series of images. One could only recognize fashion’s catwalk superstars through their walks – Mariacarla Boscono with a jaunty, flicking foot style, Natasha Poly with her uniquely regal poise. Plus the designer even dreamt up a fantastic stage set, an enormous stretch fabric, white cocoon inside which his audience felt beguilingly transported.
Story By Godfrey Deeny