Stefano Pilati staged his last show for Yves Saint Laurent on Monday night, March 5, bringing down the curtains on his seven-year reign at the famed Paris fashion house with a finely polished, artfully judged tuxedo-based collection.
Before an audience featuring all of the fashion industry's acknowledged experts and editors, Pilati earned a standing ovation of four minutes as he took his bow in the Gallery of Mineralogy and Geology in Paris' Jardin des Plantes.
"Its been a great experience. But it's also a just a phase. There will be many others," a strikingly composed Pilati said post show, adding that his next stop will be a week's skiing in the Italian Dolomites, for where he leaves tomorrow morning.
His finale was certainly a thoroughly elegant departure - from the splendidly sculpted felt boleros with leather or satin lapels, to some magically well cut heroic coats with grand shoulders. Pilati's finest moment was a series of devilishly draped chain mail dresses, the epitome of the tough chic which has characterized his tenure at YSL.
Leather tunics in violet and earthy green, tuxedo boleros with shawl collars and lean sexy shantung jumpsuits all looked suitably dynamic and cool on models sporting red lipstick, waxy chignons and beautiful metallic petal bracelets and necklaces.
The house of Saint Laurent had announced that it was separating from Pilati one week ago in a politely worded statement, which praised the Italian designer for being, "instrumental in the rebuilding and repositioning of an iconic French luxury brand. Under Stefano's guiding vision and artistic direction, the house has become a contemporary reference in high fashion."
YSL CEO Paul Deneve declined any comment on Pilati's successor, widely expected to be Hedi Slimane, the former creative director of both Yves Saint Laurent and later Dior Homme, who has devoted himself to his photography for the past few years.
Asked about when an announcement would be made, Deneve reiterated the previous statement, "in the coming weeks, the maison will announce a new creative director."
Pilati leaves YSL on a high note. When he joined the company in 2004 the Paris-based brand was bleeding money, and losing market share. Last year, it returned comfortably to the black and saw a double figures growth in sales.
"We are all at Yves Saint Laurent grateful to Stefano for his important achievements in advancing the mission and success of this historic and treasured fashion house," said Deneve, who greeted guests at both shows, the first for celebrities and press, the second for buyers and merchandisers. Also present was Deneve's boss, Fran�ois-Henri Pinault, chairman and CEO of PPR, which controls luxury conglomerate Gucci Group, the owner of YSL and such stellar brands as Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga, Stella McCartney and Alexander McQueen.
"I join Paul Deneve and the house of Saint Laurent in thanking Stefano for his dedication and contribution to the story of Yves Saint Laurent. I personally wish him all the best," added Pinault.