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In October 2004, Milanese designer Stefano Pilati presented his First collection for Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche. Featuring cute polka dot mini dresses with tulip hemlines and waists cinched with wide patent belts, Pilati’s debut was both a clean break from the sexed-up vision Tom Ford had developed for Yves Saint Laurent, and something of a tribute to the ’80s collections by Saint Laurent himself, who retired from fashion in 2003.

Saint Laurent, who was born in Algeria in 1936, is one of the most important designers of the 30th century and takes the credit for numerous innovations in fashion, such as sheer clothing, le smoking, peasant-inspired designs, safari suits and pussy-bow blouses. He was also one of the first couturiers to embrace ready-to-wear fashion, launching his Rive Gauche shops in 1966.

In 1998 Saint Laurent and his longtime business partner Pierre Berge chose Alber Elbaz as the designer of Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, but he was replaced by Ford a few years later following the Gucci Group’s purchase of the YSL ready-to-wear business in 1999. When Ford exited the Gucci Group in 2004, Pilati succeeded him at YSL.

Pilati grew up in Milan sketching outfits and stealing his sister’s copies of Vogue magazine. In the early ’80s, he abandoned a course in environmental design and landed an internship at Nino Cerruti. Over the following years, he immersed himself in the business of fashion until in 1993 he was hired as a menswear assistant at Giorgio Armani. Two years later, he joined Prada and began to work on research and development of textiles; by 1998 Pilati was assistant designer of Miu Miu menswear and womenswear, reporting directly to Miuccia Prada. In 2000 Tom Ford appointed Pilati as design director of Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, where he quickly rose to a position overseeing all product categories. He now helms one of the most iconic brands in French fashion. “When I first fell in love with fashion, it was obvious that Mr. Saint Laurent was the master,” Pilati has said.

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