Early Wednesday morning, as much of New York woke up to reports about gal-on-tour Sarah Palin sharing a slice of pepperoni pie with Donald Trump, Yves Saint Laurent’s Stefano Pilati was fixated on a completely different kind of combo. He was about to present his resort collection, one in which he would mash up the breezy yachting life in all its striped, nautical glory with the humble poppy flower, the latter a motif pulled from Saint Laurent’s Forties-inspired collection from 1971. “There was a shoe with a poppy on the ankle,” he explains. “I’ve always been kind of obsessed, but I thought I’d never use it for a fashion show. But then I had a book, which had a lot of poppies, and I went to the [Italian] countryside and there were a lot of poppies.”
It’s now less than an hour before the show start — his second runway outing for resort after last year’s affair at the French Consulate in New York. He’s sitting inside a small conference room on the 20th-floor offices of the Haunch of Venison gallery (though we’ll soon be booted out by a buyer eyeing a Warhol that’s hanging on the wall). Just outside the door, past reception and a cluster of black-clad publicists, there’s an exhibit room filled with works by Venezuelan artist Jésus Rafael Soto — that’s the space where Pilati’s show will take place. And, no, the surrounding art does not hint at what’s to come from his resort lineup. And he didn’t choose the place because he loves art — though he does and has a private collection of drawings, some by Warhol, and African masks. “It’s a gallery that belongs to Christie’s,” says Pilati. “Last time I did it at the French Consulate to insist on the French identity. What I liked now was the idea to show in a space that’s not corporate, but more representative of our group. It’s our space, in a sense.” Pilati doesn’t mean “our” as in YSL; he’s talking about parent company PPR. Christie’s is privately held by François Pinault via his private investment holding company Artémis.
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