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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Q&A: Stefano Pilati

In their own selfish way, fashion victims help the world go 'round. But no one wants to see the end result of hoarding, not even the creative engine behind one of the world's great luxury brands, Yves Saint Laurent. So last night at Barneys New York, with a little encouragement from Julie Gilhart, Stefano Pilati launched New Vintage, an eco-friendly capsule collection made from unused fabrics left over from previous YSL collections, with an emphasis on wearability and affordability. Naturally all fifty limited-edition, numbered pieces sold out within minutes, including a Downtown bag in remnant khaki that Julie craftily scooped up ahead of time. But I also managed a little selfish hoarding of Stefano...

Lee Carter: Did you just fly in?
Stefano Pilati: No no no. I got here a few day ago.

Have you been working nonstop or do you take breaks to romp around the city?
I know I look tan, like I've spent the afternoon in my garden, but actually I've been working nonstop. Normally the summer is more relaxed, but this one, no way. I didn't stop one day. After this I have the cruise show, then men's, then I start to work on women's.

Always moving.
Always moving. I do eleven collections a year.

That's crazy. How do you recharge yourself after a show?
Normally I disappear.

As in, you become a shut-in?
No, I go to Hawaii or skiing in Idaho. You know, I can't really stop thinking about collections, but at least I'm not under so much pressure.

Did you go to the Tony Awards last night? I thought I saw you in the audience on TV.
No, I read about it in the papers. It's not really a part of my world, but I could see Billy Elliott a hundred times.

Let's talk about your New Vintage project with Barneys.
Julie approached me to consider how we could educate the customer about the environment and recycling.

Is this the first time you've done something like this?
Yes. Well, this is the first time I've said it so clearly. I might have considered these aspects in my collections before, but I don't always communicate it. My mission is to challenge people, not to shock or be obvious.

New Vintage feels like it comes from the heart. How do you consider the environment on a personal level? I assume you recycle at home?
Yes, this for sure. And also at work I tell my assistants not to waste too much. For me there are two environments. There is a woman's environment and how she wants to present herself to the world. And then there is the larger environment, which is total. There is nothing more important. We have to start disciplining ourselves. So I wanted to get rid of some fabrics, starting with the ones I like.

Is this the start of a brave green YSL?
I think fashion should get to a different level. But you know, it's fashion. I'm not trying to be the President of the United States.

Or Al Gore?
Or Al Gore.

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