With all the mutterings about exactly what the future might hold for London Fashion Week, it’s reassuring to see that, at worst, the signs are still contradictory. There are at least still a few brands for which the international fashion machine is eager to decamp to London, none more so than Peter Pilotto.
Ever since relocating to London, the Antwerp-trained duo Peter Pilotto and Christopher De Vos has gone from strength to strength, cultivating a niche and influential client base in addition capturing the attention of the world’s top fashion press. Their SS 12 collection that went down the catwalk in the BFC tent at Somerset House reiterates exactly why.
Those in the know already identify Peter Pilotto as one of the first brands to harness the potential of digital textile printing into a new language for serious and provocative fashion. The complex textiles that rely on computer technology to achieve arresting patterns and effects may now be something that many young – and not so young- designers rush to imitate, but a lot of this wave started with Peter Pilotto. Furthermore, the combination of these stunning textiles with consummate cutting and draping skills is what makes sure that Peter Pilotto immediately stands out from the copycats.
This was flagrantly in evidence in their stunning SS 12 collection that saw tropical and ethnic influences worked into the very structure of the garments. But, as always, Peter Pilotto can take a multitude of influences, each vaguely discernible in its own right, and create something new: ultimately the whole is always more than the sum of its own parts. Thus, tropical Hawaiian prints, West African wax prints, Japanese illustration, wet-suits, Indonesian traditional dress and even a bit of Ibiza rave culture neon all appear to have been chucked into the Peter Pilotto cocktail shaker before producing the perfect sun-downers that really demand a name of their own.
On the whole, the silhouettes were far more symmetrical that usual with the brands known for its quirky asymmetries. Sleek clinging skirts or billowing bell shapes both brought a distant echo of the 1950’s and 1960’s beachwear but never quite went as far as feeling retro. On the contrary, detailing and the cutaway neck and sleeve lines implied wet-suits or sportswear whilst the luxury of the fabrics played counterpoint to the notion: these are garments that would look great on a beach, but only a very elegant and exclusive beach.
If much of the collection made beautiful use of a textile technique that relies on the pull between fragmenting the image and reconstituting it – a bit like watching a film of the universe expanding- then there was one wonderful section of the collection that saw a foray into dealing with floral textiles in an entirely new way. The result – a bit like fusing classic Pucci prints with Japanese animation- is most definitely a wonderful revelation.