PARIS--On a cold morning inside the bright long hallway of the Sorbonne, designer Stefano Pilati sent out a stellar collection for YSL menswear set to a luscious soundtrack by Scanner, with Sam Wagstaff reading an Andy Warhol interview and a few words from Madonna’s "Justify My Love."
The backdrop at the entrance of the white marble floor runway was a giant black board with words written, then erased, and then rewritten to correspond with the words spoken in the soundtrack.
Perhaps this activity suggested the designer’s own ideas. In his previous men’s collections, Mr. Pilatti had many. Some of them worked and remained; some were discarded and resurrected; and some were simply erased forever.
Some of his past collections have looked awkward. Some demonstrated that the designer could reign in his thought process. Inherent in the design process is risk. If you don’t experiment, you haven’t attempted to create anything new. Any experimentation can go awfully wrong but it’s a process of learning and growth.
Mixing the nighttime roughness of biker leather--like those depicted in the pictures by Robert Mapplethorpe--into classic tailoring pieces, Mr. Pilati’s new mode of power dressing is meant for a highly charged sexual man rather than a corporate one. And power dressing here does not mean military-inspired. In fact, there was none of that shown.
The first few looks were all cut in an hourglass silhouettes. One look--a black wool single-breasted suit with a two-button jacket with leather lapels nipped at the ribbed cage and slightly flared at the hips worn with black cigarette pants--rightly justified the show’s title: ‘Sex and Power.’
As the show progressed, black shiny lamb leather appeared first on lapels, then as pants, then onto the shoulder patches of a double-breasted wool coat, then a leather collared shirt under a leather line jacket, and eventually a full leather suit with a leather crew neck tee-shirt.
One of my favorite looks was the short sleeve black leather biker jacket with sheerling collar over black leather pants. Or even the long-sleeve padded shoulder version. Several of the knits had leather panels that looked like plastic--a nod to technology. There’s a grey version with leather along the side worn with pleated wool pants. Black leather dress shoes have metal silver shields around the ankle.
In past seasons, one major fault of Mr. Pilati’s YSL men’s clothes is that they don’t look sexy and often feel a bit dowdy. Well, this collection pushed that notion aside and allowed a sexual YSL man to finally emerge.