It was a touch disheartening to read in the Peter Pilotto program notes that designers Christopher De Vos and Peter Pilotto had been inspired by a recent trip to Indonesia. You can't fault designers for being on-trend, but you also couldn't help feeling less than overjoyed at the prospect of another round of tropical prints.
And yes, the Pilotto show did include tropical prints. But they were only a part of the larger story told by this collection. De Vos and Pilotto found a fresh way of engaging with the Spring '12 tropical fetish; for one thing, their riff on aquatics and hothouse florals felt lived in, as opposed to merely referential. Take a recurring aquatic print that showed up in various color iterations and suggested the blinkered, surreal, close-up view of the undersea world that comes through a snorkel mask. The collection's florals had a similar immersive feel.
With their scuba suit references and sculpted skirts that looked like they were floating, the Pilotto boys could be accused of over-literalizing. It's true that some of their fitted dresses featuring scale prints were a touch too fishy for comfort, and that the mermaid look that closed the show kind of gilded the lily of their waterworld theme. But what kept the complaints in check, for the most part, was the overriding discipline of this collection—the clothes were sharply cut and sexy and had a sporty mien that made everything feel very modern. The floral jacquards and bright, laser-cut pieces were particularly good. Also worth noting: the shoes. A collaboration with Nicholas Kirkwood, the Perspex-heeled, plastic flower-bedecked Pilotto shoes stand to be a big wish list item this season.