Monday, June 9, 2008

Un Cadeau du Roi

It seems that M. Saint Laurent was pleased with my tribute to him last week, because he sent me a gift:

(Please also note the shoes -- more about them later.)

Found this at the Austin Neiman Marcus outlet this weekend. It's a gorgeous aubergine purple dress from the Spring 2007 "Violets" collection, one that I absolutely adored. I'm so thrilled to have a piece from this collection, especially one in color (so much of Pilati's work has been black). I really loved the cheeky, sexy "Parisian-ness" of this collection. It inspired some mixed reviews in the fashion press, but I thought it was proof positive that Pilati had found his footing at YSL and delivered us once and for all from the I'm-too-sexy-for-my-shirtbuttons purgatory that was Tom Ford's time there.

So, M. Saint Laurent himself didn't design this dress for me, of course, but I like to think he chose extremely well from what was available.

The dress is viscose jersey, but it's a nice heavy matte jersey that isn't clingy. It goes on over the head, no fasteners anywhere. It is the easiest, chicest thing imaginable. (There are even pockets!) The silhouette is not overtly sexy, but there is definitely some spice to it, in the form of this openwork that runs along the seams.

So while no special support garments are required, they had better be just the right nude so they don't show through the fagoting. (Yes, that's what it's called.) This dress is proof positive that there is more than one way to skin the sexy-dress cat. It's body-conscious in the very best way -- in that you are conscious that there is a body beneath the dress, (potentially a very scantily-clad one) but not in a skin-tight, heaving-bosom sort of way. You can see the body moving beneath the knit and see glimpses of it in the openwork, but it's never obvious or sleazy. I feel incredibly sexy and sophisticated and French in this dress.

Also -- note the adorable gathered skirt:

I don't think this really qualifies as a bubble skirt, since the fabric doesn't have enough stiffness to form a bubble. It's really more of a hobble skirt, since the opening is pretty narrow, but the elastic is quite stretchy and so is the fabric, so I didn't have any trouble walking in it. It tends to work its way up over my knees when I'm actually walking and then slide down below them in repose. (Very clever, my dress.)

I've been having a purple thing lately, I've been actively trying to get a little more of it into my life because whenever I do wear it people compliment me willy-nilly. Also, a few weekends ago I was helping a friend shop for a wedding dress for herself and dresses for her attendants, and I tried on for her a fig-purple silk faille strapless sweetheart full-length mermaid number she was considering for her maid of honor. Now, this was not my usual sort of dress (although it was quite a number for a bridesmaid's dress), but I have to tell you -- I looked surprisingly good in that thing, and I've been a bit purple-fixated since then. So. There's that problem solved.

The final reason I know that this dress was a gift was not only because it suits me so well and the color choice was timely, but because it soothes a bit my longing for Paris. It makes me feel Parisian, this dress. Not for nothing is the house called Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche. Under M. Saint Laurent its clothing always epitomized sexy French chic in a way that few other designers have been able to master. This was always my problem with the clothes when Ford was designing them -- they were too American. Stefano Pilati gets it right (even though he himself is not French), and YSL is back on track. Pilati has managed that extremely difficult trick of embracing the atmosphere and history of a house and still moving the design forward. If you track his last few collections, it's fascinating to watch him working out new shapes & proportions over time. He's a thinking designer, Pilati, he's exploring an idea at length and in depth and seeing where it takes him without it growing stale. I admire that; in some ways I think it must be more difficult than to come up with something entirely new every season.

(Also, you would not believe how on sale this thing was. Seriously. It was about 90% off original retail. I couldn't have bought a new dress at Macy's for what I spent on this. So, all the more delicious.)

How about you guys? And good shopping karma this weekend?

Photos: Style Spy

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Anonymous said...

That dress looks great on you! I love how easy it is, just throw it on, no zippers or buttons. The perfect thing for summer. I don't think I could pull off that particular shape because I'm SHORT. This weekend I did buy a couple very cute, very comfortable cotton sundresses for kicking around in when the weather finally heats up. After many futile attempts to find bermuda shorts that don't look ridiculous on me (did I mention that I'm SHORT?) I've decided that this summer I will live in dresses and skirts. I'll be all cool and breezy! :)
Karen G.

Duchesse said...

This is an exquisite dress, living proof to anyone who questions"are designer clothes worth it?" (though I blanch to think of the 100% price.)

Refinement. Construction. Superb fabric.

It looks smashing on you.

Belle de Ville said...

OMG there is a Neiman Marcus outlet store!!!!
Thank God I don't live in Austin...I'd have some serious credit card bills.
Great Dress.