Stefano Pilati couldn't have known his days as the house's designer were numbered when he presented his men's collection forYves Saint Laurent in June, but the way he dipped into YSL's dark side—the one personified by the designer's relationship with the arch-decadent Jacques de Bascher—prophetically hinted at an end game.
And Pilati extended that same mood into his women's collection, the last he'll show for Saint Laurent. The wasp-waisted, fetishistic discipline, the leather, the martial strictness of Guido Palau's slicked-back hair combined with the vampiric gloss of Pat McGrath's blood-red lip were components of a powerful, hard-edge dominatrix fashion fantasy. Backless dresses in a chain mail made of metal and rubber were the ultimate expression of Pilati's hypersexualized vision. So he naturally picked the calla lily, Roman symbol of lust, as the floral accent for the collection. (Ironic footnote: Calla lilies were also the flowers laid on the graves of those who suffered an untimely demise.)
The burnished backdrop, the gold paneling on the walls, established a kind of imperial, pagan tone against which Pilati could parade his broad-shouldered nightlife Amazons. There is something inevitably glamorous about that look. Many kids like Pilati were conditioned by adolescences spent poring over pictures of YSL, Warhol, and their gang idling away glittering nights. But there'd always be a grim, hard-lit dawn. And yet with that dawn would also come the promise of a new day. Maybe that's why, when he appeared to a stomping ovation, Pilati seemed so cheerful.