It was inevitable that the epic Saint Laurent exhibition, which recently closed after a six-month run in Paris, would make its presence felt in fashion this season. It certainly put the man who holds the reins at the house that Yves built in a reflective mood. In a blazingly focused, tightly edited show, Stefano Pilati revisited the Yves Saint Laurent codes one by one: beginning with a trenchcoat and building—naturally—to Le Smoking, in crepe de soir. In between came bowed blouses, blasts of color, cabans, paysanne ruffles, clouds of marabou, long forties lines, exotica, erotica, and more. It was a comprehensive guided tour of the YSL universe. And the location—a Rothschild hôtel particulier in the eighth—was a simpatico venue, its gilded, frescoed salons instantly creating a more appropriate, intimate mood than the cavernous glory of the Grand Palais, where Pilati had been showing for a while.

Speaking of simpatico, the clothes Pilati offered to an audience that ran the gamut from Janet Jackson to Florence Welch (minus her Machine for a fashion night out) underscored his instinctive connection to the fundamental ethos of the house. You could pose it as a face-off: restraint versus release. The specter of Belle de Jour hovers over such a notion, but here it was as simple as black and white, if you considered the pristine glare of that opening trench versus the inky blackness of the last jumpsuit. But Pilati also proposed a blouse that was proper bordering on prim, bar the fact that it was completely sheer, and a jumpsuit that turned out to be backless. The subtle baring of skin was something of a leitmotif, with the slit skirt or the exposed midriff. It fitted with the tribalism Pilati was talking about afterward: how fashion is a way for women to identify themselves, just as members of a tribe do. He made the connection explicit with a print that was—literally—thumbprints, or a texture that looked a little like scarified skin. The sophisticated, the primitive—again, restraint and release. It added up to a collection that should resonate loud and long for Pilati.