Emotions were high Monday as Stefano Pilati bid adieu to Yves Saint Laurent, just a week after the house announced his departure as creative director.
Talk that the company was looking to replace the designer for some months was one of fashion's worst kept secrets.
The collection was stronger and sharper than last season. Perhaps fittingly, it channeled black _ the color of mourning _ and chainmail, redolent of combat and self-defense.
From the outset, a tangibly fatalistic mood hovered in the air: the first model strode slowly down the 100-meter (328-foot) catwalk in a simple black hood.
But the seeming lightness of the materials diluted the fierceness of the clothes: Sharp-shouldered silhouettes with cinched waists managed to have an element of fragility.
A long black coat could have been inspired by the Matrix, but had the feel of a kimono and a softness in the leather. A chainmail dress looked delicate _ like the skin of a fish _ later echoed with finesse in chainmail printing.
A subdued mood with slimmer forms replaced the free volumes of previous seasons. Also gone were the palazzo pants and the Prince of Wales check of last fall, and with it most of the house's DNA.
"Stefano has given them lot of iconic things," said actress Salma Hayek, on hand for the show. "This show was a homage not to the house, but to himself."
The last piece was the exception that proved this rule. A gorgeous 1970s tuxedo suit, a single generous nod and direct tribute from Pilati to the late, great Yves Saint Laurent.