In Paris, Stefano Pilati the Archivist and Hannah MacGibbon the Hippie

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Published March 8, 2011

TWO LOOKS FROM YVES SAINT LAURENT

Stefano Pilati has been taking a very close look at the well-kept Yves Saint Laurent archives, and it showed in a tightly-edited collection that played with ’60s tailoring in Prince of Wales and houndstooth checks. The checks were in double-faced tone-on-tone black, white, and gray mixtures, or tinted purple and feathered—and finally, blown up large and distorted. By the end of the show, he’d reached the late ’70s, with sinuous, white, backless dresses and super-wide pants (think palazzo) worn with transparent white blouses and a feather cocoon jacket—very Liza Minnelli.

Pilati is not the archive type. He’s looking now because fashion is revisiting the classics. So here we have sharp ’60s lines, from the double-breasted coat jacket to the A-line kick pleat skirt, a blouson pantsuit, and a full-sleeve, cape-like coat. Pilati managed a modern take on the YSL smock dress, in light silk, with a Prince of Wales checked yoke. And then he added inventions: a patent-leather vest that looked like modern armor, and a jumpsuit with a sheer yoke and heart-shaped neckline, worn with a cape.

LOOKS BY CHLOE (LEFT) AND GIAMBATTISTA VALLI

Hannah MacGibbon is a late ’70s aficionado, and inhabits that period when hippies turned glam. For Chloé, she took snakeskin and worked it every which way throughout her entire collection. Snakeskin showed up on everything from cotton to chiffon, and in various sizes, on coats, pants, and filmy chiffon peasant dresses–or in appliqué stripes on one great, curvy, suede jacket. MacGibbbon even put the snake in a print to line the front pockets of faded denim skirts. And of course, the reptile went two-tone for shoes.

Giambattista Valli is a wildly prolific designer, and has built his own business over the past five years making the kind of frothy party clothes “It” girls wear. So it was really surprising to see a simple, skinny pair of high-rise pants and a matching three-hole top open his show. A “less is more” ethos ran through this collection full of sleeveless shifts. But every now and then, his exuberant side took over—notably with goat hair, which Valli left long and shaggy, in mixtures of black and white, all over a cape.