The shoes! The shoes! Front-rowers Kylie Minogue and Elettra Wiedemann could barely tear their eyes away from the footwear during the Yves Saint Laurent show today. Paradisiacal for the shoe guy, problematic for the clothing guy. Although maybe the haute bourgeois collection that Stefano Pilati delivered was designed to emphasize fetishistic extremes. In its allegiance to YSL's classic codes, the one it cleaved to tightest was Belle de Jour, the bon chic, bon genre babe with the dark side. It was all there in the sepulchral color palette, in the couture volumes, in the restraint and release of scarf tops and kicky little godet skirts. The painted lips and hair held tight by a half-moon of Barbary gold took the message and ran with it.

It was a curious collection under the circumstances. An unusually unsettled, even sadistic atmosphere prevails in fashion at the moment, with some designers, Pilati among them, compelled to create clothes under the rumored threat of imminent replacement. That would be a perfect moment to go for broke. Instead, he denied whatever emotion he is surely feeling right now with precisely proportioned clothes in tones as muted as the loden green that colored a fair number of pieces. The low-key eroticism of Frederic Sanchez's soundtrack offered a cue for something a little more passionate, but Pilati didn't take it. Shame.