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Yves Saint Laurent’s Entente Cordiale

Godfrey Deeny
January 23rd, 2011 @ 1:26 PM - Paris

The Anglo-French understanding has rarely looked more cordial in fashion than in the menswear runway show of Yves Saint Laurent on Sunday, Jan. 23, the freshest and most elegant collection seen in Europe this season.

“Yves Saint Laurent silhouette, Pierre Berge French taste,” smiled YSL’s creative director Stefano Pilati, referring to Saint Laurent’s long-time partner, a dapper Frenchman who had his own suits made for him in London tailor Anderson & Sheppard.

Staged in a gilded Grand Empire drawing room, and illuminated with faint afternoon winter light, the show opened with a series of rather Edwardian looks, i.e. elongated jackets with velvet collars and shirts with micro rounded collars: somewhat British gentleman, somewhat rockabilly singer.

Yet, the collection was also quintessentially French in its lean cuts, beautifully made jackets and aloof refinement. Coats and jackets all featured inventive four-inch darts halfway across the shoulder that seemed to mould the garment onto the models.

Then halfway through the show, he altered direction with a half dozen A-line style coats with super-wide sleeves that had great theatrical charm. Reminiscent of a gentleman man of letters, one mega lapel coat-meets-cloak looked incredibly smart, as did a pony skin trench finished at the bottom in black-dyed Argentine fox.

Though a highly knowledgeable fashion insider, Pilati also a great visual sense of humor – seen in the camouflage rubber soles of many shoes, and the leopard pattern of their under-soles. Other accessory hits included sleek pony skin boots, and a final trio of models each wearing four rings spread over their four fingers, collectively spelling out the name "YVES." The heeled loafers and boots were also knock-out.

“I wanted hidden beauty,” added Pilati, himself dressed in an elongated jacket, though with only two high buttons.

His triple suit finale, in particular a micro double-breasted version on a shaven head and strutting young Russian model made for the perfect ending. But what made this collection so great, and perhaps Europe’s best menswear collection, was the sense of a designer respecting the DNA of a brand, while still managing to create a collection that could only have been shown in 2011.

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