The lady is a vamp and, most likely, a power player. She is also ultra, ultrachic. In the fall collection he showed on Monday for Yves Saint Laurent, Stefano Pilati engaged in every bit of the rumination and precision that have at times stifled his collections, marshaling them now to produce a terrific show. It brought a distinct modernity to fall’s suited, dressed-up story.


Though Pilati’s program notes began with the word “understatement,” this collection had nothing at all to do with discretion in either attitude or cut. Rather it was about controlled bravado, starting with an extensive lineup of black leather. This included a zip-up maillot, which suggested, the designer’s claim aside, that spare and understated should not be confused. More functional (for those other than a gal named Barbie celebrating the big 5-0 by getting down and dirty in the backyard of the dream house in Malibu) were the group’s other offerings, any number of jackets and coats, including a low-belted version with a studded collar; a lean, belted suit, and tight, racy pants. Most struck a mood from slick to severe while stopping short of arch.


Among Pilati’s other proposals, chalk stripes on gray looked classic-plus, especially in a long, mannish jacket over a short skirt, a look that tested the Eighties waters without jumping in. While this jacket was straightforward, more often Pilati incorporated decorative details of cut, such as slicing a square arch into the hem of a gray quilted coat or cutting away a suit’s elongated jacket and skirt for a double-tulip effect. Even the most familiar of standards got a flourish, a plain shift, newly broad-shouldered and all aglow in icy gray metallic; white shirts with exploded volumes at the neck or sleeves; a smoking with full-cut pants chopped off just below the knees. It all added up to sensual strength with elegance, and that’s a look to which a lot of women aspire.

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