Among the current group of young designers who are being lodged and mentored in the free studio space of London's Centre for Fashion Enterprise, Peter Pilotto
is the one whose sales graph is, against all the economic odds, heading skyward. His distinctive draped, printed, ultra-flattering short dresses have, in fact, become so popular and well stocked over the past two seasons that a problem was looming over his next show: Could he prove he could do anything more than that one highly identifiable swathed tunic?
Refreshingly, he did, making the addition of lightweight coats, jackets, vests, and knits look as if it came naturally. All of them featured prints, of course. Some were faint snakeskin patterns with a pearly cast in which pale blues, greens, browns, and lemons fade in and out. Others had been manipulated from photos of fireworks to make stunning, irregular painterly patterns—a streak of violet on a pale gray skirt, or intense crimson and sea green on a dress with a strong black stripe running down the back. What makes these prints modern is the way Pilotto and his partner Christopher De Vos tinker with their original source material so it never reads literally.
Getting the placement of patterns to integrate effortlessly into the shape of garments is also something they're getting more accomplished at with every season. Their printed tailored jacket with external darts looked grown-up, chic, and summery, and the short swathed dresses with sparkle embroidery, though exceptional, have a relaxed attitude that does "formal" without ever veering into "special occasion." The fact that Pilotto's dresses allow a girl to walk into a party without feeling too done-up is the secret ingredient that will, if he and De Vos carry on this way, help their brand to even more success.