{live from the runway} Yves Saint Laurent RTW Fall 2012

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After last week’s announcement of his impending departure, Stefano Pilati showed his sign-off collection for Yves Saint Laurent Monday night. Unlike the season’s first designer casualty, Raf Simons, Pilati had worked under the rumor of possible dismissal almost from the day he assumed the role of creative director seven years ago. It’s not clear when he learned this would be his swan song; he maintained that fact did not determine the design process. “It’s not a collection for celebration [of the YSL tenure],” Pilati said backstage before his show. “It’s just a phase of my creation.”

Perhaps so, but one rooted in a dark sensuality, albeit not unfamiliar to the designer’s oeuvre. His models were done up to glam perfection, their hair pulled into tight chignons, their lips, high-lacquer blood red. Pilati cloaked them in the trappings of aggressive femininity, reed-thin black silhouettes, cinched waists and liberal use of leather feeding their aura of woman-in-control. Jackets were strong-shouldered, often with demonstrative lapels, trousers and skirts, lean and ultrasleek. Pilati had recently used metal accents in his accessories, a concept he incorporated here into his clothes, determined to create “light [effects] beyond the cliché of sequins and embroideries.” The result, dresses in color-tinged mesh, was steamy fare for cool customers. Deepening the show’s deliberate sensuality: a Mapplethorpe-inspired calla lily motif, used for moody prints and sculptural 3-D jewelry.

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Categories: Runway.

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