"I just started with three thoughts: blazers, sweatshirts, and a vaguely preppy idea," said Stefano Pilati, "and then it went into thinking about goddesses, stars." For many women in the audience, though, there was only one thought: at last, a jacket. In a season when so much of fashion has fallen for flowers, ruffles, and neo-hippie fantasy, YSL offered none of it. Instead, Pilati continued to steer the house toward the "post-minimalist elegance" he started out on last Fall.

Pilati is right to intuit the need for a creative approach to tailoring (it's gone more or less missing since Helmut Lang left the stage), and correct to feel that Rive Gauche ought to break free from the slavish cycle of reference to Yves. Besides, it's a fact that few things are more difficult to craft than a jacket and a great pair of pants, so what held the interest here were the minutiae of the cap-sleeved tailored vests, hip-length blazers cut with new volumes, and the variously calibrated high-waisted, ankle-cropped trousers. Those, done in blues, grays, and chino beige, were the most striking part in the collection, but Pilati wasn't content to leave it at that. His obsession with reinventing cut also led him to look at asymmetry, so that skirts dipped and blouses and dresses came one-sleeved. The best of these came alive in motion. Subtle darting gave even the strictest combination of a white shirt and skirt a quietly erotic—not to mention chic—impact when seen from behind.

There was more in the way of vaguely Vionnet-influenced thirties satin (the goddess symbolism made overt), and the "star" motif manifested in chain-linked reflective plastic breastplates, which came over as a bit nonplussing. Still, credit to Pilati for having the courage to keep on in the direction he believes in. If—to the disappointment of some—this collection wasn't one of those that shakes up the fashion agenda on a grand scale, its subtlety may pay off in the longer run in terms of consistency, and clothes to buy. With each season, it's becoming clearer that Pilati's YSL is on the side of strength, modernity, and the grown-up woman.