North Africa is the root of the Yves Saint Laurent saga. It's where Yves himself was born, it's the well he went back to time and again. Now it seems to serve the same function for Stefano Pilati. His new men's collection had a palette of sand and sky, while the mood of the clothes, alternately tribal and military, suggested a European gone native (it's the Paul Bowles reference again).

Khaki drill is a shade of the season. Pilati showed it in a trench or baggy pleated shorts that could have been lifted from the trunk of Rommel's desert rats. A double-breasted coat with a pleated back and a white blouson with a funnel neck also spoke to Sahara-based commando units. They even had their reptile in the dunes, in the form of a python-printed blouson and a pair of cargo shorts.

The show opened with a display of precise double-breasted tailoring, until Pilati introduced the threat that it could be literally undone with a swath of drawstrings and laces trailing up the forearms of a white shirt, on a drill tee and matching shorts, and linking the halves of a birfurcated jacket. The detail seemed a little incongruous. Was it an ambiguous implication of male corsetry? A reference to the lacing of nomadic tribes? A forced effort to inject visual interest? Either way, it would scarcely have been cause for comment if Pilati had cast his net wider with the collection. As it was, the 25-look show felt focused almost out of existence. There was one story here: a hold-on-fast feeling of self-control. Maybe that's why the shoes were so striking. Chunky python loafers were all about letting go.