PFW: YSL Show Report

06 October 2009

Oh Stefano…..what’s with the strawberries? There was something strangely fruity going on at YSL. And the appliquéd berries on white cotton dresses were only the start of it.

Designer, Stefano Pilati, wows when he channels the spirit of the house and wobbles when he wanders. And Mr Saint Laurent would never have embroidered fruit. Birds, yes. Musical instruments, yes. Spots, stripes, flowers: yes, yes, yes. But strawberries? NON!
I feel for designers these days. Especially those in the famous houses. The challenge is to remain faithful to the spirit of the label (see John Galliano re-working the Bar jacket at Dior to the sound of chiming cash registers) but push it just enough to keep it feeling new and fresh. Winter’s grey flannel and black leather collection was a masterclass in how to do that. It was so YSL and yet so modern, so spot on, we are all still talking about it. A steady hand on the YSL tiller is what we want right now. And strawberries are just too…..well, too Suri Cruise.

The opening section of crisp white cotton poplins and drills were just what we needed. And as the big sleeved, frilled hem, floor sweeping shirt dresses poured out, we were completely absorbed. Apron dresses, sleeveless coat dresses and the simplest lazer cut cotton shifts were a dizzying combination of drama and practicality. And that’s some rare fashion alchemy that I’d pay good money for. Mr YSL would have been clapping in his grave.

But then it drifted into some weird colour thing: crushed strawberry, muddy khakis and even a dash of emerald and it all went wrong. Colour is a YSL trademark. The founder used it fearlessly and faultlessly. It’s a tough place to follow. But I am also not sure it’s the right time to be working up that part of the YSL canon. And as the winter tailoring proved, there is so much more that this house has to give that is perfect for now.

Stefano hauled it back with gorgeous origami pleated frills on a fabulous fit and flare dress and around the arm holes of a sleeveless coat dress. By the finale we were safely home in sharp and sophisticated YSL territory. Phew!


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