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Women's Fashion / Fashion Equations

Yves Saint Laurent Womenswear A/W12

A mathematical guide to the key inspirations and references in designers' collections by Laura Bradley, illustrated by Tom Baxter

Yves Saint Laurent A/W12
Yves Saint Laurent A/W12 Illustrations by Tom Baxter

Kicking off the A/W12 season of Fashion Equations is Stefano Pilati's final collection for Yves Saint Laurent, bringing together reference points of Calla lilies, wasps and chainmail...

The last round of womenswear shows saw the finale collections of two important designers: Raf Simons at Jil Sander and Stefano Pilati at Yves Saint Laurent. Both have made significant contributions to the landscape of womenswear over the past decade – Simons exercising modern minimalism and Pilati redefining the Parisian woman. Throughout his 11 years at the prestigious French house, Pilati has produced many memorable fashion pieces including The Muse handbag, the Eiffel Tower-inspired cage boot,. He has overseen the direction of standout campaigns with Juergen Teller, Inez & Vinoodh and David Sims; and reinvigorated Saint Laurent's wish to bring fashion back to the streets with the introduction of the house's Manifesto.

One of the key elements of Pilati's A/W12 collection was the white Calla lily used as a print (on black), in collar and lapel details and as jewellery. The silver neckpieces and bracelets will no doubt be one of the collection's most defining elements; rendered in silver, their delicate stems wrapped around the neck and wrist. The Calla lily has a variety of different meanings around the world, originally “magnificent beauty” derived from the Greek Goddess, Hera. The plant, which is poisonous, is the Roman symbol of lust and has featured in many works of art including the paintings of Diego Rivera. For the Romans, this particular lily was placed on the graves of individuals who died at a young age. It is used regularly at funerals, for beauty and sorrow and for its long lasting lifespan. In this respect, a fitting symbol for Pilati's departing collection.

Pilati also demonstrated his skill for adding just the right amount of sex to a design – always chic and measured. This time, he cleverly sexed it up with blackless cuts, rubber and leather in looks that were bold and powerful. Waists were cinched with patent belts to achieve a wasp silhouette, balanced by boxy 80s shoulders. There was also a warrior feel to the look – Guido Palou's slicked back hair, Pat McGrath's fierce blood red lips and frequent use of chainmail. A mesh material used for armour since 300BC, Pilati used it for shift dresses, skirts in silver, and in shades of green and purple, accented by metallic shoes and gloves. Pieces that will feel and sound as good as they look.

Laura Bradley is the commissioning editor of AnOther and published her first series of Fashion Equations in May 2008. Tom Baxter is an illustrator currently living and working in London.

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