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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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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Out of the Blue

Tired of going green? Try blue. Spearheaded by Julie Gilhart, Barneys New York has joined forces with Elle to create Project Blue, a shop-for-charity initiative to benefit the clean-water advocacy group Oceana.

Eight designers—including Rodarte, Stella McCartney, Versace and Alexander Wang—were given a pile of old donated denim to play with. From this mass of acid-washed, mom-jean rejects, they were asked to create totally new garments, to be auctioned off on eBay.

The results, which aren't the patchwork-denim Franken-frights you might expect, range from a tailored dress from Bottega Veneta to Rogan's long-sleeved hooded dress. The bidding has started (Ann Demeulemeester is currently fetching $135, which won't last) and continues through May 10.

—Pia Catton


Versace, Rogan, Rodarte

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A Stella Performance

By Haidee Findlay-Levin...

Giving in to the suppressed urge for retail therapy, I popped into Barneys New York yesterday for Stella McCartney's trunk show, which gave me a chance to see the collection up close. Better still, Stella was there in person for a Q&A with the wonderfully witty Simon Doonan.

I knew Stella from my early styling days in London. I remember being at her precious jewel box of a studio in Notting Hill (when Phoebe Philo was still her assistant) at the moment Madonna's office called for the first time. I was amazed that the potentially blasé daughter of a Beatle could be excited by celebrity.

Stella is now, incredibly, a mother of three and running her own international clothing, accessory and beauty empire, plus designing a collaboration with Adidas. When Simon asked if she would like to do menswear, she answered with a resounding yes. Why not? She trained, post-Central Saint Martins, with a bespoke tailor who worked under the notorious Tommy Nutter. Suiting has been a part of her signature since her student days, even before her tenure at Chloé.

Now, as everyone knows, Stella is a lifelong vegetarian and promotes a cruelty-free ethos in her personal and professional lives. Although she passes no judgment on others, she is well-known for her staunch opposition to leather, designing all her accessories—shoes, bags, belts, etc.—in alternative materials. For this, she has drawn a lot of respect in an industry that loves all things animal: leather, exotic skins, fur and so on.

So, right then, just as I was thinking about her noble aversion to animal-made products, it happened. It. You know! I, a fellow vegetarian, unwittingly made the ultimate Stella faux pas by wearing not only the fairly forgivable leather boots and a leather bag, but also my Acne leather tunic complete with a jumbo leather and metal Tuareg [North African] necklace! I listened uneasily as she spoke about her affection for the jumpsuit, desperate to crawl into and disappear in one of them. But I rallied, hid part of my outfit under my short coat and I went to say hello, for old times' sake. And in true Stella form, she put (visible) judgment aside and was all compliments on my appearance.



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Monday, March 16, 2009

Goyard Girl

Christopher Bailey may have been running late to the airport, but that didn't stop us from grabbing a pic of him with Julie Gilhart—not to mention Simon Doonan sporting his new monogrammed Goyard bags—at a Barneys party to celebrate Burberry menswear and Gossip Girl's Ed Westwick...

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