Sexy remake of 'Belle de Jour' by YSL's man in black

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The Independent Online

Tom Ford, unlike his predecessor Yves Saint Laurent, does not dream about dresses. Instead, the man who has for two years presided over the YSL Rive Gauche women's ready-to-wear line dreams about dollars. And money, as we all know, is very, very sexy, just as sexy as the YSL autumn/winter collection unveiled in Paris last night.

Since the Gucci Group bought the YSL name in November 1999, the twice- yearly show, which formerly took place in the very grand but ultra-bourgeois Yves Saint Laurent showroom, has moved to the Rodin Museum. Ford, famously known as the man in black for his extended love affair with the inky hue, has installed a mirror-lined black cube in its grounds that is rather more overtly flashy than anything the house's namesake would ever have imagined.

It is, however, the perfect backdrop to Ford's entirely focused vision for the house: that is to take one of the great Saint Laurent themes each season ­ and there are many ­ and reinvent it for a younger audience. Two seasons ago, he turned to the master of French fashion's gypsy collection; last season, out came safari ­ cue endless leopard-print kaftan shoots spread across the pages of glossy magazines.

This time, Ford turned his attention to the film Belle de Jour. Saint Laurent dressed the star for the role. In Ford's hands, the clothes that originally balanced the bourgeois and the rapacious in so subtle a way were more blatant than latent.

Saucy pussycat bows embellished velvet and lace pencil skirt suits and dresses that would, not to put too fine a point on it, bring the average male to his knees, particularly when worn with skinny thigh-high suede boots with shiny patent toes. These came in endless variations: stopping two inches above the knee; floor-length; falling off the shoulders; with low square necklines; and, most sexy of all, laced loosely up the front.

Sleeves were narrow to the elbow, then exploded into ultra-saucy full ruffles and folds. The collection was almost entirely black ­ save a ruby red and sapphire blue skirt suit and bright, white, waisted coat ­ and, from start to finish, followed this one super-charged track.

By the end of it all there was no mistaking the message of He Who Must Be Obeyed: chuck out the chintz and vamp it up, ladies. The world is about to become a va-va-voom place to be.

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