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Yves Saint Laurent's Mannish Femmes

Paris – Paris enjoyed another bona fide fashion moment Monday, March 9, courtesy of the maison of Yves Saint Laurent, with a super sophisticated mannish fall 2009 collection.

With designers grappling with the new financial paradigm and swerving between creating serious "investment" clothes and disco dancing dreams, it was stimulating, invigorating even, to see these latest clothes by YSL's creative director Stefano Pilati.

Created in black, chalk-stripe and various hues of industrial gray, the collection was a cerebrally chic response to the new realities.

And while clearly in step with the traditional YSL style, the collection was highly contemporary, in particular in its fabrics. Pilati worked with auto makers, using materials more normally used in high-end cars in some remarkable bomber jackets and posh motorcycle looks that were a fresh take on tough chic.

There was an executive feel to many of the opening looks, with mannish lady bosses in to-the-knee skirts, and broad lapel jackets all in chalk-stripe, yet one that did not hide their sensuality. Another look featured an oversized jacket paired with a mini and a Gattaca-style, patent leather spike-heeled platforms.

Coming in a season when Saint Laurent's CEO Valerie Hermann announced that the house had finally made it into the black after a half decade of financial losses, the show trumpeted the whole YSL renaissance.

Pilati changed gears one-third through the show, attiring his female patricians in "architectural" white blouses, the sort of self-assured look that was multi-functional and plausible at business meeting, art gallery openings or after hours.

"Masculine, Saint Laurent, independent, oh, and indie!" laughed Pilati backstage, as Kanye West and Claudia Schiffer posed for photos, in the Palais de Tokyo, the modern museum where the show was staged.

Pilati is in a period where his runway antenna seems flawless. From the chignon hairstyles capped with black leather knots to the bee-stung lipstick and pale makeup, these models looked perfect.

The highlight of the show was the finale, where Pilati re-worked Saint Laurent's most famous contribution to fashion, the tuxedo. Made in Stefano's auto accessory materials, these peplum hemmed, curvy shouldered, padded looks were the must-have of the week. In short, a fashion home run from a mega hitter.