Paris Menswear: African Rhythms At YSL
Given that Yves Saint Laurent is an iconic, global brand, Stefano Pilati manages to get away with a lot in the collections he designs under its rubric. His latest menswear range for the brand was a sophisticated exercise in the kind of gender ambiguity that Pilati has come to excel at. It’s not really a man/woman dichotomy, more a languid, decadent softness that is equally suited to every chromosomal combination (although here I’m setting aside the elbow-length gloves as a temporary aberration). What this meant clothes-wise was coats tied with fringed scarves, pants wrapped in an Oriental style, cropped cutaway jackets with a one-button crossover and a half-belt at the back, a kimono coat in tweed. The volumes and angles had a North African flair which was very much in keeping with the traditional Saint Laurent vocabulary, but, given that the people who may be drawn to these clothes could probably care less about their origins in the mists of fashion history, they also reflected the influence that Pilati himself has drawn from the life and style of the American writer Paul Bowles, as well as the boyish look of his wife Jane, also a writer (and a criminally underrated one, at that). I imagine that boyishness could be a commercial flaw, though it’s a recurring component of the designer’s aesthetic. His pleated, priestly shirts also made a reappearance.
Pilati bookended his presentation with a film by Bruce Weber and a dinner at Caviar Kaspia. The former made the very salient point that fashion is not something that should be taken seriously but more enjoyed for its infinite, occasionally undressed variety, here represented by male models of the moment in states of stark, raving nakedness. The latter was a reminder of life’s other essential pleasures.
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