Love of women shines through in Pilotto's collection
Designers Christopher De Vos and Peter Pilotto embrace femininity to reveal best in 'real' women, writes Angela Scanlon
Peter Pilotto and Christopher De Vos are beautiful boys. OK, they're not exactly boys, but in the short time I spend with them, I am convinced that they are, indeed, beautiful people. They're relaxed and welcoming, dressed in understated blacks and greys -- a million miles away from the designs that have thrust them into the fashion spotlight. Their eyes are full of excitement and a sense of wonder at the fairy tale that has unfolded around them.
Pilotto and De Vos are the designers behind the Peter Pilotto label. Pilotto is half-Austrian, half-Italian, and De Vos is half-Belgian, half-Peruvian. They met while studying at Antwerp's prestigious Royal Academy of Fine Arts in 2000. Peter graduated in 2004, with Christopher finishing the following year. But it wasn't until 2007 that they officially started working together.
Since then, Pilotto has been awarded the British Fashion Council's Emerging Talent Award (2009). The pair has also been awarded New Generation sponsorship (their shows are financially supported by Topshop) for the past three seasons. Style.com promptly identified the Peter Pilotto label as one of the "10 most promising new talents" in fashion today.
So, they're doing something right, but how does the dynamic work? "We do everything together," says Peter. "We try to divide the workload evenly, but I guess we're both coming from different places, so it sparks interest in different things."
Christopher's background is in architecture and design, so he looks at the silhouette and 3D elements of their garments, while Peter studied graphic design, and focuses on the textile and prints.
Ah, the prints -- those kaleidoscopic prints which have been picked up by some of the world's most powerful women. The designers have dressed an impressive list, and the age span and different styles of the women are testament to the fact that Pilotto's clothes are for everyone. Michelle Obama, Kristen Stewart and Kate Bosworth are all fans of the label, but the guys are quick to point out that it's not all about celebrity clients.
They are grounded in the belief that their clothes are for "real" women, and they go to great lengths to ensure that the designs "make sense" for everyday life. "It's very important for us that the things work in real life," Peter insists. "We love the shows, but ultimately they have to be worn by real women. There's nothing more satisfying than seeing our dresses on women -- short, tall, curvy and thin. They work on everyone. And that's what it's all about."
Their technical ability is abundant -- the draping and folding of the fabric, which is made to look so effortless, requires hard graft. "This season, one of the dresses we cut 100 times before we were happy with it," says Peter. "We wanted it to be perfect for a woman to walk in, to allow her to move comfortably."
The guys talk about their garments being "wearable". In fashion, it's often seen as a dirty word, but they seem to embrace it -- and, in return, their fans embrace them. As Brown Thomas fashion director Shelly Corkery says: "We have a very loyal following for the label. It always flies out because it's innovative and fresh, and women look amazing in these clothes."
Looking through the Peter Pilotto collection, it's obvious that there is a passion for women. Their pieces offer an escape from mundane dressing; a glimpse at a life of fantasy. They hug a women's curves and hint at a sexuality that's present but not explicit.
For the boys, it's about embracing the femininity that has been missing during the past decade or more; it's about showing women off, if only for themselves. So, you must really love women, I ask. "Yeah," says Peter. "Totally," adds Christopher.
See www.peterpilotto.com for the collection available in Brown Thomas