Welcome to America, Peter Pilotto. The young-gun London label has got a new U.S. showroom, a powerhouse PR firm looking over its shoulder, and enough demand from retailers worldwide to launch its first-ever Resort collection. More than all that, Pilotto and partner Christopher De Vos also have something that backs up all of the above: the chops to make it work.
Their label rose to prominence on the strength of its prints and twisted, pleat-front cocktail dresses. The Resort collection is full of them. Pilotto and De Vos are wisely using the opportunity to reprise and tweak some of their greatest hits rather than advance an editorial proposition (although, Pilotto noted ruefully, this collection took as much time, effort, and energy as any of their Fall or Spring outings). For the prints, the designers looked at classical jacquard—"a microscopic look," Pilotto said—zooming so close that the fabrics dissolved into razor-sharp, fibrous lines of color. The designers have a talent for tweaking and twisting their prints so they never read literally, and they did so again here. But though they're in the vanguard of digital printmeisters, their respect for the past and the time-consuming, labor-intensive processes of screen-printing and jacquard weaving sets them apart. "We did digital print in a screen-print mentality," Pilotto explained. It added a sense of groundedness to the looks. In Photoshop, after all, a few mouse clicks can send a designer spiraling toward the moon or farther—and back just as quickly. When you screen-print, every screen is precious.
More graphic elements distinguished this collection from previous ones. A cartoonish clover motif, borrowed almost verbatim from a vintage sixties print, appeared on a few dresses and tops; it was more literal than many of Pilotto's prints in the past, but it had a kicky appeal, as if the graffiti artist Kaws had dropped by the showroom to tag a few samples. Color blocking appeared here as elsewhere this season but with a jagged, unexpected twist, thanks to uneven panels of color and print. And while tailoring is not new for the label, a few slim, double-breasted suits were no less welcome for that.