Sometimes it takes two, case in point Peter Pilotto and Christopher De Vos, the designers at the helm of London-based fashion brand, Peter Pilotto.
The design duo are well-known for their dizzying kaleidoscope prints, cleverly worked together with beading and embellishments creating a futuristic and iconic 3D look.
Pilotto, from Austrian/Italian decent met his soon-to-be-partner De Vos, who’s Belgian Peruvian, while studying at Antwerp’s elite Royal Academy of Fine Arts in 2000.
Seven years later, they set up their label and with immediate effect the industry stood up and took notice. It was hard to miss them, largely thanks to their innovative and in-your-face prints.
Soon their threads were dominating trend pages in glossy titles across the globe. Then came the covers – who could forget Gwen Stefani rocking their epic printed peplum top on the cover of ELLE UK last October? The singer then went on to wear a Pilotto crop top onstage in Vegas.
But what really rocketed these Brit-based designers was when a certain First Lady, or make that two, Michelle Obama and Samantha Cameron both wore Peter Pilotto to public events. The wife of UK Prime Minister, Sam Cam – as she is fondly dubbed in the Brit tabloids – is celebrated for playing the patriotic card and supporting young British talent.
In the last year, Peter Pilotto has experienced a meteoric rise. The company have significantly increased their team, are set to make their head quarters a 10,000 square ft studio in Shoreditch and are now stocked in 200 stores across 42 countries.
It appears, the boys behind Peter Pilotto are well on their way to withstanding fashion’s fickle wave and remaining a permanent fixture on the style scene.
Assistant Online Editor Annah, met the boys for lunch at Wheelers in DIFC to pick the brains behind the designs to talk fashion week, body shapes and heir inspirations.
Is there a particular woman you design for?
C: There’s not one woman but several woman.
P: The woman we usually have in mind are friends from all different age groups.
Even girls we’ve known since we were students, whose style we always admired. They are our muses.
What’s the worst thing a woman can wear?
P: Something that doesn’t suit them. An outfit that’s not flattering to the body shape. Anyone can look good with effort but a woman has to figure out what suits her.
C: It’s all about confidence.
Do you think it’s important for designers to sell their collections online?
P: An online presence for designers is very important now and the collections need to look good online. We take photographs of everything once it’s designed to see how it will look in photographs on the web.
C: Our business has grown so much in the last few years especially online. We can now reach people all over the world, people who don’t have access to our clothes where they live. That’s why it’s great working with a company like Matches.
How has your experience been working with Matches?
P: It’s honestly been great. It’s interesting to see how shopping has changed and how a store is no longer restricted to location. The boundaries have been broken down and we now all have so many more opportunities. Matches have been brilliant and we are both super excited to be on this trip in Dubai.
What’s the process behind creating one of your prints?
P: The process is a whole season long. It’s very intense and it never ends where is started. It’s important to us, that an idea gets transformed and then surprises us with how it turns out.
C: Our prints are special because we really work hard on them and the resolution on the image is so high. Every single garment in our studio has its own print file.
P. It’s endless hours, we engineer every single print for each garment. We also try to achieve the most flattering result for the figure. That’s why digital print is so great, it’s flexible.
Is it frustrating when you see high street chains copy your designs?
C: It’s flattering sometimes. They do it but always in a very different way because they don’t have the same quality. You can always feel that the quality has been diluted.
What is currently inspiring you?
P: It’s important to travel, see and educate. That’s why this trip is such a great idea, it will open our eyes. We design while we travel and stay in touch with our team back in London.
C: We always look to the art world too. We visit exhibitions and source books from many different artists, each season we’re inspired by something new.
Can you describe your first experience showing at Fashion Week?
C: But then we got into the groove and it became more of a habit. At first it’s very nerve-racking, what will people think? Will they like the collection? And in the beginning the organisation was a lot smaller.
P: Now, the organisation is easier and the shows less stressful but other things have become harder. Although, I think we’ll always have a little anxiety before a show, it keeps the momentum going, which is a good thing.
What’s been a career highlight so far?
P: Last year there were so many amazing moments for us. We presented the pre-collection [Resort 2013] in Florence and we had this amazing Palazzo with our prints on carpets and walls. It was fun to explore different ways of presenting.
C: For me, it’s tricky to pinpoint one highlight. But working with a growing team has been great. We’re moving into a new studio in two months time and it will be five times bigger than what we are in now, 10,000 square ft!
How does it feel to see woman like Samantha Cameron and Michelle Obama wearing your designs?
P: It’s very rewarding and an honour. Michelle actually went out and bought the piece.
We have a great relationship with Samantha, she’s very supportive of us at London Fashion Week.
C: But we feel equally happy seeing somebody walking down the street in our clothes.
How important is it having a public figure wear what you make?
P: Very important, it helps to support young designers. It’s great that woman like Samantha and Michelle do this. It would be easy for them to only wear the biggest brands. Wearing young labels like us supports the new generation.
Some designers send bloggers their line in the hope they will get photographed in them. Does this side of things appeal to you?
P: Some of the bloggers are friends of ours and I think it’s important that they want to wear our brand. It’s the way it is now.
C: They love fashion, love clothes and you can see it in the way they wear it. It’s really rewarding for designers to see this. The bloggers are getting more and more followers so it’s important for designers to get onboard.
P: It also inspires us to see how they put things together. This is what I love about the Internet, there’s this liberation and it’s exciting to see the new voices that are appearing.
Who would you love to dress?
P: Well, we’ve been fortunate to dress so many amazing women from Kristen Stewart to Cate Blanchett, who actually wore an outfit of ours to the Abu Dhabi Film Festival last year.
How do you manage co-designing?
P: We start the season separately. We each go away and do our own research and then present it to one another. Next, we’ll work on this together and then with the team. I focus more towards textiles and print and Christopher concentrates more on the silhouette and drape.
C. We are great friends and working together early on, taught us how to work with a team. There are plenty of times we don’t agree but we work it out. With time, we have got much better at solving issues.
P. We don’t usually have disagreements because we know when to listen to each other.
What’s next, perhaps a stand-alone store?
C: Yes. First in London, because we are British-based and then maybe Dubai!
What will be your greatest challenge ahead?
C: We have reached that level of brand recognition, next will be awareness!
Peter Pilotto is available on matchesfashion.com
Shop the collection here