Since 2004, designer Stefano Pilati has steered Yves Saint Laurent, the most Parisian of houses and the first couture maison to offer ready-to-wear. Though back in the sixties, the tag succinctly cut to the chase as Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, with the little orange and hot-pink squares.
Following PPR's ownership, Tom Ford took helm of the Rive Gauche brand, which was rejuvenated in the late 90s by Hedi Slimane (menswear) and Alber Elbaz (womenswear). Pilati worked under Ford from the offset (2000) and realigned the house to a vision more sympathetic to Saint Laurent following the American's departure a couple of years later.
His first show opened with a polka dotted, peplummed trench strutting down the catwalk and it was clear that a sense of charm had been reintroduced to the maison.
In his seven years as artistic director, Pilati rejuvenated the house with a sixth-sense for accessories, with bags like the Downtown and Muse leading YSL once again to profitability. Broad belts, capes and very high shoes created Pilati's YSL silhouette, which acknowledged the archives and built upon that. We'll remember the ruffled evening dresses of S/S 06; articulated jewel vests and iconic grey marl sweatshirts of S/S 08 and plastic capes and flouncing hats of A/W 10. As well as Pilati's introduction of a brand-new menswear silhouette, himself as the archetype of a new Yves Saint Laurent man.
For campaigns, Devon Aoki and Mariacarla faced off with Juergen Teller, amidst gilded statues on top of Paris' Opéra Garnier. Kate Moss and Inez and Vinoodh were separated by a pane of glass at the Fondation Pierre Bergé–Yves Saint Laurent. And Claudia Schiffer was dressed by Melanie Ward in a red sequinned jumpsuit underneath the Hollywood sign. A reel of moments for one of the most consistently iconic and reverential houses.
As with Raf Simons, who exited Jil Sander last week, we await Pilati's next project. The winds of change are blowing again.