At Yves Saint Laurent, the question was how to bring a hidden sensuality and a whiff of intrigue to a bourgeois surface. The “Belle de Jour” theme of Catherine Deneuve’s sexual appetite hiding under an icy exterior has become a hallmark of the house. First came a proper and polite coat, cut with precise geometric lines. But even though its drab olive color remained in the palette for the rest of the collection, almost immediately the chic severity of that first look gave way to a sense of stirring sexuality. The models, viewed from behind, had flirty hems on their slim skirts, gilded half-moons clasping their prim hair buns and dainty, curvy heels on their gold-capped shoes. This focus on the rear view was also emphasized in the offhand elegance of slim satin pants and silken tops in rich colors like purple, blue and raspberry that left the models’ backs exposed.
The apparent simplicity of the clothes, which were in fact carefully constructed, contrasted with the high-octane accessories. The belts, which sat on the hips, gave a fillip to suits — some of the few true spring propositions on the runway this season. But Mr. Pilati had another way of expressing the more louche part of the YSL spirit: a long hippie de luxe skirt with a paisley print that was paired with an elegant sleeveless white blouse. The model turned on the runway and revealed that her back was — bare.