Taking fashion into another dimension with dazzling astral prints across audacious garments fit for ‘intergalactic pirates’ and ‘apocalyptic rockabilly nomads’, London-based label Peter Pilotto is turning heads with a style all its own. Indigo Clarke writes.
Caught stylistically in an 80s dystopian sci-fi on a detour via neo-glamour Americana, emerging London label Peter Pilotto’s Autumn Winter 2008 collection was an unexpected, and somewhat eccentric, breath of fresh air. Since their debut London Fashion Week show last year for Spring Summer 2008, in which models, headed by the show-stopping Anouck Lepere, walked robot-like in mechanically-inspired print-heavy designs, Peter Pilotto has maintained the buzz surrounding his label with bold and confident clothing reflecting a unique point of view.
Pilotto’s bold vision for the new season, though not easily decipherable, was nonetheless captivating. As though gazing out into space through a telescope, nebulous galaxies opened out in vivid print over intricately crafted and complex designs, notably upon billowing yet structured dresses and sleek cigarette pants. The collection, inspired by ‘minearology’, saw lustrous metallics set against primaries and burnt tones – unlikely combinations that proved an exercise in clashing complimentarily.
“I guess it is the mix of prints and colours – ugly and beautiful shades right next to each other that create a new kind of balance and beauty,” notes Pilotto, contemplating reasons for the success of his young label, which he runs with design partner Christopher De Vos. “At the same time we work on three-dimensional, soft and sculptural clothes,” he continues, “an interactive mix of print, colour and shape that create a new body for the wearer. We want to grow further and expand in that direction, to continue to feel free to express our ideas.”
Pilotto and De Vos’ trademark fusion of striking hand-designed prints, luxurious and obscure fabrics, and unconventional – purposely awkward even, colour combinations has seen their label pick up coveted awards, including The Maria Luisa Award in France and London’s On/Off Visionary award this year. The design duo, hailing from Austria and Libya respectively, have also been invited to exhibit at famed Antwerp Sixer, Walter Van Bierendonck’s, ‘Window Gallery’, as well as the Museum Bojimans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, Arnhem Fashion Biennale in Netherlands and Centre Culture1 Suisse in Paris. “I guess we were both always interested in Fashion,” muses Pilotto, “It works well, I start up with the prints and colours, and Christopher with the study of a shape and we build up the collection together in this way,” he pauses. “We complement each other.”
With such a vanguard aesthetic and approach to design, it’s no surprise that Pilotto and De Vos happen to be graduates of the luminary Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts – an institution responsible for perennially turning out influential, fashion forward designers including the Antwerp Six in the early 80s. “We had a very exciting time at the Academy in Antwerp, it’s a really hard and challenging school, and it’s where my design partner on the label Christopher and I met each other,” remembers Pilotto. “We were lucky to have some really interesting school mates, but after we graduated the city felt a bit too small for us, and we found new excitement in moving to London and collaborating with new people here. The important point that the Academy tells its students,” he says, “is to be personal, and to source things that truly inspire you – that are of deep, personal interest to you. If you work in this way, then you will never run out of inspiration.”
Clearly not running short of inspiration yet, their AW08 collection drew on fragmented and seemingly endless, not to mention delightfully loco, sources. To name but a few key points, this multi-faceted collection took shape thematically around, says Pilotto, “an intergalactic traveller, a traveller between ages, apocalyptic rockabilly nomad of no nationality, otherworldly Americana,” and, finally, “intergalactic pirates.” But of course. And what do these myriad influences and interests reflect about Pilotto and De Vos? “Everything we do simply reflects what we love, and what we imagine women should be wearing,” Pilotto says simply. “Our designs are very much about the female body, of course. It is very important for us to find new ways to work with the body, and yet uphold a sense of traditional aesthetics. We want to make garments and prints that interact with shape and contours, in this way we both enhance and reveal the female body.”
Currently in heads-down preparation mode for Spring/Summer 2009, the designers are keeping their ideas for spring close to their chests, letting slip only that they, “Will continue the prints and soft, sculptural shapes… Plus we’ll be experimenting with embroideries for the first time.” Carrying on from Autumn/Winter 2008, Pilotto says that the new season will involve similar themes, so expect further sartorial feats as rockabilly nomads and apocalyptic Americana join forces once again, “But that collection has to stay a surprise until we reveal it…” Pilotto smiles.
With the new season rapidly approaching, the Peter Pilotto duo are excited to be showing yet again at London Fashion week, to be adding exclusive Parisian chic boutique, Colette, as a stockist from September, as well as launching their first line of sunglasses with cult shade specialist Linda Farrow Vintage. And this, as they say, is only the beginning.