As Penny and I saw at the YSL showroom yesterday afternoon, Stefano Pilati brought politics and fashion together in his A/W '07 collection by making a design statement about ornamention and the ascetic.
You would think that a designer who wants to say something about asceticism would keep his jewellery small. But Pilati’s sturdy, brassy neckpieces come encircled with chunky wooden chains, faceted black beads and burnished rivets. It is this approach to ornamentation that makes Pilati politically exciting. He opts for robustness and a kind of stark floridity that feels particularly relevant right now. We also saw this in the tightly pleated armscyes which ‘flower’ around the shoulders in utility style smock dresses made from griege linens and puckered silks.
Though Monsieur Saint Laurent said himself: ‘there is not one black but many blacks’, this collection was told with grey as the narrating colour. Managing to sensualise shades associated with bucolic labour as well as the anthracites and concretes of the urban sprawl, Pilati loads the colour with its own social history, summoning a new order of beauty based around 'respect' and 'dignity'.
The alternatives that Pilati finds for animal skins - faux-crocodile rendered in heavily embroidered silk and ‘fur’ effect in bunches of shredded chiffon - showed that interesting results can be synthesised in the process of forging new alternatives. These fabrics themselves are often more intriguing than their originals and look set to raise great interest at a commercial level.