Morocco is a foundation stone of the Saint Laurent legend, and Stefano Pilati is shaping up as a major keeper of the flame, so it sounded logical when YSL's creative director claimed that country as an inspiration for his latest menswear collection. Except that it wasn't Marrakech, where Yves plays house, that Pilati had in mind. Instead, he was thinking of Paul Bowles, the American writer (in)famous for his lifelong artistic and cultural exile in Tangiers.

What this meant for Pilati's show was a dialogue between the conventions of Western dress and the concessions an expat might make to local culture. It was most seductive at its most formal, in a tuxedo shown with Moroccan leopard-print slippers, or a butterscotch linen evening jacket trimmed with black passementerie. More casual outfits—a black military shirt paired with matching drawstring pants and a navy turtleneck with spacious white shorts—suggested the nonchalant ease of an American aesthete abroad.

Aside from a palette of pale earth and sky tones, Pilati didn't want his Moroccan moment to turn ethnic. Instead of obvious exotic flourishes, he used other clues to suggest the sartorial attitude of a louche urbanite adrift in North Africa: a foulard with a hypertailored sports jacket and waistcoat; full, flat-front, cuffed linen trousers touching the floor; a striking combination of gunmetal trench and chocolate corduroys. One odd touch: Pilati described a belted woolen cardigan with a motif of rearing horses as "constructivist in silhouette." It looked more like Starsky.