Love Manifest at YSL

Canceled parties and budget deficits be damned, Fall/Winter 2009 Fashion Week patrons find passion this Valentine’s Day. There will be festive freebies to covet—and thusly—to vehemently pursue, attain, and defend. And this particular Valentine’s Day, it’s Stefano Pilati’s new “Manifesto” campaign for YSL that’s stolen our hearts, bolstered our malnourished materialist streak, and heightened our week-long paranoia. Indeed: this Saturday, while Alexander Wang’s front row scrambles for his designer rubbers, the pluckiest of us will attempt to be one of the random 2,000 New Yorkers (or, if you prefer, one of 500,000 worldwide) to score free YSL. Gird your loins, indeed. They may just be pretty, logo totes (loaded with digital eye candy, mind you), but in these times, we’ll wear our YSL love thin, as long as it’s still technically on our sleeves.

Inside each of these black-and-white patterned totes, the chosen few will find Pilati’s heart: a cute, red cordiform USB key. With this, you unlock YSL’s latest Manifesto, an interactive digital preview of the label’s Spring 2009 ad campaign, a dramatically lit Hollywood Hills spectacle starring Claudia Schiffer and shot by Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin. It’s a shiny, snappy token of Valentine’s Day spirit, some swag to flaunt all week, and a clever bit of marketing. But let’s be honest: this prize is really all about the journey, not the destination. It’s the scarcity factor and the subsequent pursuit that thrills us, not the “trophy” itself. Since Pilati lets you win this particular prize through either pure luck or stealth strategy, we bet the dueling halves of New York Fashion Week’s core psychographic will fight this one out to the bitter end. Not since Marc Jacobs’ Sonic Youth “Goo” tote exactly a year ago have modest canvas bags meant so much to so many. Let the Valentine’s Day games begin.