By  on November 8, 2010

It’s not easy being a designer when the name on the door isa legend of 20th-century fashion. And it’s more difficult stillwhen every designer under the sun is suddenly inspired bysaid legend—and you are among the last to show. “Yves SaintLaurent fever is everywhere and a major influence on everyrunway,” Neiman Marcus’ Ken Downing declared by the end ofthe Milan leg of the international fashion weeks. Whiffs of YSLhad been detected at a wide range of shows, including MarcJacobs, Gucci, Alberta Ferretti, Moschino and Peter Pilotto.

No matter. Stefano Pilati, the steward of YSL since2004, came out smelling like a rose, delivering one of hisstrongest collections in years near the tail end of ParisFashion Week. He made heritage look modern by takingYSL inventions—jumpsuits, gypsy dresses, classic suitsand tuxedos—stripping them down, and then buffing themup to a high polish. Pilati acknowledges the weight of thelegacy, describing it as an “impressive, prolific and complexuniverse of monumental dimension.”

So what’s a guy to do? “I’ve always strived withdiscretion and extreme ambition in my work to nail thesoul of YSL,” he mused a few weeks after the show.“Through innovations in volume, cut, construction andfabric development, the [YSL] woman still defines Frenchchic and elegance, provocation, the power of the feminine.The most recent collection was another evolution in thenarrative I have sought to build, one that can only anduniquely belong to YSL.”

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