It’s not easy being a designer when the name on the door is a legend of 20th-century fashion. And it’s more difﬁcult still when every designer under the sun is suddenly inspired by said legend—and you are among the last to show. “Yves Saint Laurent fever is everywhere and a major inﬂuence on every runway,” Neiman Marcus’ Ken Downing declared by the end of the Milan leg of the international fashion weeks. Whiffs of YSL had been detected at a wide range of shows, including Marc Jacobs, Gucci, Alberta Ferretti, Moschino and Peter Pilotto.
No matter. Stefano Pilati, the steward of YSL since 2004, came out smelling like a rose, delivering one of his strongest collections in years near the tail end of Paris Fashion Week. He made heritage look modern by taking YSL inventions—jumpsuits, gypsy dresses, classic suits and tuxedos—stripping them down, and then bufﬁng them up to a high polish. Pilati acknowledges the weight of the legacy, describing it as an “impressive, proliﬁc and complex universe of monumental dimension.”
So what’s a guy to do? “I’ve always strived with discretion and extreme ambition in my work to nail the soul of YSL,” he mused a few weeks after the show. “Through innovations in volume, cut, construction and fabric development, the [YSL] woman still deﬁnes French chic and elegance, provocation, the power of the feminine. The most recent collection was another evolution in the narrative I have sought to build, one that can only and uniquely belong to YSL.”