Paris Fashion Week: Yves Saint Laurent
The designer presented an intellectually severe collection, contrasted with occasional splashes of colour and unexpected details.
The hot, clammy, stifling, lack of air, in the low-ceilinged concrete 'tomb' at the top of the Palais de Tokyo, was at odds with the cool, austerity of Stefano Pilati’s spring/summer collection for Yves Saint Laurent.
A French woman hastily removed her mink; others shed jackets and cardigans; most frantically fanned themselves with their YSL invitations. But how on earth did Prince manage to stay cool in that black wool jacket emblazoned with gold sequins (he designed it himself).
Prince was just one of a clutch of celebrities who climbed the stairs for an intriguing lesson on the ‘aesthetic paradigm of new minimalism’, according to a subsequently released missive. Also in the front row were Kate Moss, the current YSL ‘face’; her boyfriend Jamie Hince; Katy Perry; Rihanna; Claudia Schiffer; and two of the house’s most faithful friends and clients, Loulou de la Falaise and Betty Catroux.
The collection, we were informed, demonstrated Pilati leaving behind “the identity politics of social postmodernism, forging a space for a renewed dialogue on representation and the fundamentals of dressing”.
The palette was spare – black, white, nude, grey, tobacco, with an occasional flash of milkshake-pink and cornflower blue. The intellectual severity of the clothes was contrasted with sudden, unexpected details: purple zigzags on the armholes of a slim, white, cotton, wrap-dress. Black leather collar and sleeves on a white, A-line dress. Gigantic, crystal-beaded strawberries on a billowing white cotton skirt.
Jackets and peasant-blouses featured big, gathered sleeves. Lederhosen – the new shorts – came with a dislocated hem at knee-level. Gathered 'ruffs' or layered 'petal' collars garnished the necklines of a full, white, cotton dress, and a shorter, black dress, with cinched-in waist and drawstring-sleeves.
More immediately understandable was a mid-calf, apron-style, sundress in tobacco linen, with cut-out neckline and buckled straps; or a strapless, green silk dress, with bunched-up bodice, and a voluminous skirt, nipped-in at the waist with a narrow belt.
Pilati also offered several variations on the legendary YSL tuxedo theme, such as black, straight trousers with a Moroccan-style bolero-jacket and white, frilled-neck blouse; or black evening shorts with ribboned, corset lacing in the front, also with a version of the white 'dinner shirt'. But I could not get my head around the thermo-bonded, jersey-bouclé, towel-effect pencil skirt in white. It might have represented detailed textile research, but I’m sorry, it looked like a towel.