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Yves Saint Laurent: Pretentious Not Poised

Godfrey Deeny
June 25th, 2009 @ 11:03 AM - Paris

There was a curiously gloomy beginning to the Paris menswear season Wednesday night, June 24, at Yves Saint Laurent, where the cramped seating, irrelevant pre-show movie and occasionally derivative collection meant one left the event more dismayed than delighted.

The movie screened before the show, a black and white short by French author Samuel Benchetrit, used one actor, his son Jules, a mop-headed teen whose character takes a room in the Bristol Hotel, makes calls, smears the bathroom mirror with ketchup and then checks out. The connection to the men's collection show that followed, however, was unclear.

The largely black and white collection was quite inventive, though hard to see, as the clothes were presented in the dim half-light one associates with the entrance to a late nightclub.

For Spring 2010, YSL’s creative director Stefano Pilati wants men in voluminous jackets with peplum hems, Trappist monk baggy trousers and tough artist leather bomber jackets in funeral shades of ash, charcoal and faded gray. Pilati cuts with aplomb and is an inventive tailor, but it was odd to see several jackets bear more than a passing resemblance to the gothic minimalism of L.A. designer Rick Owens, a huge force in menswear in Paris.

Post-show, the audience twisted through a passageway to actually touch the collection, where one could only admire some great tire track sandals with zip detailing, excellent paint splashed satchels, beaten leather totes and patent leather Chelsea boots, some of the best accessories we’ve seen at the European shows so far.

A cocktail party followed in the courtyard, where a small band played jazz and guests downed lobster and ginger canapés washed down by rose champagne, and yet the atmosphere was one of forced jollity. The absent designer could not be found and guests bumped into each other in narrow, dark stairways. One left wondering why a house as luxurious as YSL had managed to get this event so wrong.

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