Yves Saint Laurent: Wow! Stefano Pilati has arrived at Yves Saint Laurent. The first exit of his show on Thursday night — an austere, voluminous double-breasted coat — heralded a very different collection from those he has presented in the past. What came across most dramatically was a slicker, more focused and, yes, more editorial look, although ironically, with their chic, many-shades-of-black appeal, these clothes are probably far more salable than spring's giant buffalo plaids.

According to his program notes, Pilati sought to distance himself "from luxury in its most obvious form." He did this by confining his palette to blacks and moody darks, restricting his decorative impulses and focusing on strong, substantive shapes without a trace of spring's romance. Then, he offered a gentle antidote to Space Age goings-on elsewhere; here, he went futuristic himself, a mood declared in bold, clean-lined volumes and small, shiny fake croc helmets matched to long killer gloves. And, happily, though some silhouettes owed a debt to the past, Pilati avoided Retroville by miles, landing in more au courant terrain, where women embrace a kind of chic that stops just this side of tough. Gutsy fabrics keyed the mood, giving structure to cocoon and mannish silhouettes, whether in coats or dresses, which Pilati kept short over thick, ribbed tights. When he went softer — but not coyly so — it was with beautiful sack dresses tied at the neck in back.

Throughout, Pilati deliberately limited, but did not banish, ornamentation. Rather, he shunned traditional notions of decoration in favor of moody textural plays and a whole lot of fabric interest in, for example, a slippery black metallic, a shiny tonal jacquard and that oh-so-racy fake croc. Some of these wound their way into evening, when Pilati was amazingly controlled, banishing the grand statement gowns he has so loved in the past. In their place: jumpsuits and smokings, slick, structured and on the cusp of severe. In fact, given their new, fuller jackets and stiff fabrics, some turned toward clunky. But no matter; Pilati's new dark mood has definitely brightened the vista at Saint Laurent.

Stella McCartney: Sophistication with spunk — it's an m.o. you don't see every day. Stella McCartney understands the combination to the core and has claimed it for her own, on Thursday merging the two forces into a delightful collection.

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