October 5, 2010 / 2:52 PM / 8 years ago

YSL's Pilati plays it safe by sticking to heritage

PARIS (Reuters Life!) - Yves Saint Laurent took no risks with a collection that looked straight out of a recent exhibition on its founder, but with a 2010 touch, allowing it to ride the current wave of nostalgia for the late designer.

Models present creations by Italian designer Stefano Pilati for Yves Saint Laurent as part of his Spring/Summer 2011 women's ready-to-wear collection during Paris Fashion Week October 4, 2010. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

The fashion house’s modern day creative director Stefano Pilati played with YSL’s classic codes and colors from the safari jacket and tuxedo to African prints and color mixes such as black and deep blue.

“I thought it (the collection) was very appropriate given the influence Yves Saint Laurent has been having on designers,” Colleen Sherin, fashion director at U.S. luxury department store Saks Fifth Avenue, told Reuters.

Many fashion critics agree the French designer has had big presence on the runway this autumn, from Marc Jacobs in New York in September with his bright colors and silhouettes to Etro in Milan and Stella McCartney in Paris this week.

Fashion consultants say sales from a well-established fashion brand such as Yves Saint Laurent can benefit from heritage if its traditional style and colors remain identifiable and recognizable among fashionistas.

The company’s eponymous founder, who died two years ago, is largely credited with being one of the first French designers to make women look elegant and feminine in pants.

Pilati’s summer/spring collection unveiled late Monday comes after a popular exhibition on the designer in Paris and a feature film about his love for business partner Pierre Berge, which was released last week.

The current wave of YSL mania has also been stoked by a controversial biography “Saint Laurent, mauvais garcon” (bad boy), in which author Marie-Dominique Lelievre debunked myths about the designer and shed light on his drug addictions.

Pilati downplayed the retrospective nature of his show, arguing that he always delved into Yves Saint Laurent’s archives but recognized that this time, his references to the house founder were “perhaps clearer” than before.

“It has been 10 years in the house, six years by myself and it is a total progression. I developed my vocabulary with my personal research but at the same time, I always look at the archive, and it is very very important,” he told Reuters.

As always, the Yves Saint Laurent show, housed in the palace Hotel Salomon de Rothschild in central Paris, attracted a wide range of celebrities.

Singer Janet Jackson, musician Ron Wood and supermodel Claudia Schiffer were spotted on the front row.

Pilati’s new collection, which included big bows and ruffles on the hem of lantern-shaped dresses, included many practical items designed to give a fillip to sales.

The fashion company impressed the market by returning to profit during the first downturn year of 2008 but dipped back into loss in 2009 after a 12 percent drop in like-for-like sales.

In the first six months of 2010, comparable sales rose 2.9 percent to 118 million euros ($162 million), boosted by leather goods.

Editing by Steve Addison

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