The drive toward, as the Yves Saint Laurent program notes put it, "a natural and honest chic, an aesthetic paradigm of new minimalism" is picking up speed during the Paris shows. Stefano Pilati, whose intellectual aspirations always lead him to think long and hard about contemporaneity, is one whose natural urge is to belong to that vanguard. But what does it actually involve in his case? A stark, monochrome pencil-skirted suit and an austere tuxedo? Or a pair of conceptual lederhosen and a romantic, strawberry-scattered dress? For Spring, YSL had both. And that was odd.

The logic linking the two (if not more) sides of the collection was hard to see. Some of it appeared to stem from the Saint Laurent archive, albeit at a great remove: the strawberries, flounces, and peasant influences can be traced back to the seventies, though Pilati's bunchy off-the-shoulder dresses were abstracted from the source and eroticized with black leather short shorts and fishnet stockings. But there wasn't enough of it to get into any sort of stride, and when a single white sleeveless coat-dress appeared with what seemed to be purple djellaba embroidery on the shoulder, it was an idea that was left hanging, without further development.

On the other hand, there were more easily understood city dresses and suitings—like a regular periwinkle long-sleeved linen dress and the belted white pantsuit that opened the show—interspersed with a continuation of the edgy black leather pieces Pilati showed last winter. Then, to add to it all, there was a reversion to some of the clerical references he brought up at the beginning of his tenure: surplicelike sleeves, priestly white blouses, and almost ceremonial minimized capes.

The parts will likely separate into perfectly sellable working-woman pieces for the stores, and the more edgy elements will get bundled off to editorial shoots. But in terms of a cohesive statement, they never quite seemed to relate.