The Kings of Prints

di Alessia Lucchese

Peter Pilotto and Christopher De Vos, the designers of the Peter Pilotto label, have created a world of sculptural silhouettes and prints inspired by nature and space, while also participating in collaborations of all kinds.

The Kings of Prints
Peter Pilotto and Christopher De Vos

In just a few seasons, they have become two of the hottest names at London Fashion Week. Anna Wintour, the influential editor-in-chief of American Vogue, even extended her stay in Britain just to see them, and their very special capsule collections mean that they are very much in demand among the big brands for collaborations. Peter Pilotto and Christopher De Vos form the designer duo behind the Peter Pilotto brand. They have enchanted the fashion world with the psychedelic and space imagery in their prints, which appear on dresses with sculptural silhouettes. The pair met while they were studying in Antwerp (the former is half Italian and half Tyrolean, while the latter has a mixture of Belgian and Peruvian blood). Four years ago, they decided to start up the label. Their ambition now is to create a lifestyle brand, and one way in which they are going about this is through a number of targeted partnerships which are proving to be very successful.

Prints have become your hallmark. Where do you find your inspiration?

We have always been inspired by nature, and especially by its colours. Every season we work in a different way, but when we create our prints, we like to find a striking image and rework it, perhaps by combining unexpected techniques in the patterns, inserting lace or opening up the fabric with laser cuts. We always start with the colours when we are thinking up a collection and we seek to bring them out by using unique combinations.

The same approach can be seen in the sculptural forms of your dresses.

We like to create different structures that nonetheless always follow the lines of the body. This is why the cuts of the garments are fundamental for us, because they allow us to present something that would not normally be seen on clothes. When we design our collections, our goal is to ensure that no details are ever forgotten.

In recent seasons, you have been among the most in-demand names for co-branding schemes and you have worked with companies such as Kipling and Schneiders. What do you think of this formula, which is increasingly popular on the fashion scene?

Projects of this kind are very interesting and they have brought us into contact with new segments and categories of consumers. For example, teenagers love Kipling and making bags and accessories for them was a highly enjoyable experience that taught us a lot. It was very different when we teamed up with Schneiders, which is a label with incredible heritage. We have always wanted to experiment with our style on coats and jackets. As well as permitting us to create a capsule collection of outerwear, our work with the quintessential loden brand also allowed us to introduce a selection of down jackets to our line, which we presented during the fashion show in February.

Have you started up any other collaborations in recent seasons?

Our footwear has been made by Nicholas Kirkwood since Spring-Summer 2011, while our first beachwear line – which we designed with Lisa Marie Fernandez – is now hitting the shops. There may also be other collaborations of this kind in the future: at the end of the day, we all benefit from learning how to express ourselves with the language of our counterparts.

You started out as a womenswear brand. Are you planning to continue along this path or would you like to expand and see what you can do with your style for men?

At the moment, our focus is on women. We want to grow step by step rather than moving forward too quickly. Our recent collaboration schemes have also concentrated solely on women. They allow us to learn how to work in new areas of the market into which we have never previously ventured. This year we also produced our first cruise collection and we were extremely pleased with the response.

Your brand is based in London and you are among the hot names of London fashion week. How big a part does the city play in your creative process?

London is going through a creative purple patch, especially when it comes to young designers like us. There are not that many big brands, so up-and-coming designers have a better chance of making a name for themselves and getting people talking about them. Like many other designers, we received essential support in our growth from the British Fashion Council and Topshop, with their NEWGEN scheme.