Everyone knows there’s cult of Saint Laurent — a fashion fact that’s a blessing and a curse for the person now charged with the house’s creative direction. “Everybody has a reference in mind because Yves Saint Laurent is so iconic. So how are you going to do it?” Stefano Pilati queried on Tuesday. The designer is in New York for the showing of his Yves Saint Laurent resort collection on Thursday at the French Consulate, and gave WWD an exclusive preview. “For me, it’s about understanding now that [the iconic looks] are basically cult. So the answer is to take certain elements from the archives and change them.”


Exhibit A: The prints. Inspired by archival fare, Pilati combined multiple patterns into single motifs, which he used to create silhouettes of Seventies-era YSL magazine editorials, just as he did for fall with his figural pendants. The results are both fanciful and chic: a leggy girl whose outline extends the full length of a black chemise dress; a waist-up image of a girl in a huge, floppy hat decorating a skirt. “The reference is there but not there,” Pilati said.


While these figural images lend pop, the collection offers plenty more with legs of a different sort. Explaining, “we have to sell,” Pilati indicated the extensive lineup of pieces that work the bold side of classic, cut as they are with ample structure and shot with bright colors and bold details such  as wide belts and contrast piping.


As for his show, Pilati said the venue makes perfect sense. “Resort started for the American market,” he said. “And so, this is a sort of a mini-show in New York in a space that could breathe a bit of French history by itself. You know, a collaboration.”


The merits of the cost-effective, at-your-convenience nature of resort’s predominantly simple showroom appointments are obvious. But on Thursday, Pilati made a case for the growing alternative: the formal show that, Dior and Chanel notwithstanding, tends toward the understated, and is a great way to view a collection. Apropos of house heritage, the show was held at the French Consulate on Fifth Avenue, where a gilded parlor with painted ceilings and a live string quartet set a chic atmosphere that was calm and lovely like the clothes. Beturbaned beauties took the floor in butterfly print dresses, caped jackets, wide-leg jumpsuits and contrast-tipped bandeaus that were an urbane and au courant nod to the time when resort was for aristocrats on holiday.


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