Paris -- It was cool, calm and oh-so-chic. The collection Yves Saint Laurent showed Tuesday challenged the two big notions we've seen all over Paris this week: First, that there's anything fashionable about looking dowdy, and second that fashion needs a spectacle. "What counts for me is the line," he said before the show. "A woman's body inspires me -- not my own fantasies." Unlike so many others, Saint Laurent refuses to apologize for making flattering clothes. Asked if he felt pressured to engage in fashion's gimmick games, he just said, "No. I've seen so many dresses in my life." Saint Laurent is content merely to make a woman look beautiful, refined and young. And while he revved up his presentation with a few supermodels, for the most part, these clothes could walk off the runway and right into real life, as long as you ditched the flying-saucer hats and the fringed boots. Saint Laurent's suits are just about perfect. His favorite jacket is cut on the tight side and sculpted at the waist, but he also showed boxier, more relaxed shapes. These were put with his brilliant trousers or above-the-knee skirts. Perhaps it's not the newest length in town, but it sure looked right. His coats were also strong -- bold, sweeping wools, a snappy leather trench, a rich velvet robe. At night, however, most of the dash and spunk evaporated suddenly with dreary print mixes and tired ballgowns that looked like the work of a different, lesser designer. The discrepency was all the more dramatic, because the first part of the collection was Yves at his best. And that's as good as it gets.
A Stella McCartney sketch of a custom dress made from protein-based silk in partnership with biotech lab Bolt Threads. The dress will be displayed at The Museum of Modern Art's upcoming design exhibition, "Items: Is Fashion Modern?"