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July 25 2014

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Peter Pilotto and Christopher De Vos Talk Target

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Jourdan Dunn

London-based label Peter Pilotto, made up of Pilotto and best friend Christopher De Vos, is known for its kaleidoscopic, futuristic, printed looks. The pair’s work is intensely intricate and, quite often, computer engineered. On February 9, they’ll follow in the footsteps of designers like Phillip Lim and Prabal Gurung when they bring their neon-hued, digi-printed womenswear to the masses via a hotly anticipated collaboration with Target. The beachy seventy-piece capsule comprises trapezoidal-cut swimwear; some very boardwalk-to-street Vans-style trainers; lots of feminine, floral-layered hoop skirts; and some rash-guard-inspired separates. The range, which is priced between $14.99 and $79.99, will be the first of Target’s designer collaborations to be sold on Net-a-Porter—a testament to the quality of the work. Also a testament to the collection? Its campaign cast—not just anybody can get Jessica Stam and Jourdan Dunn to strike a pose. The latter’s ad (above), as well as a behind-the-scenes video (below), debut exclusively here.

We sat down with Pilotto and De Vos to discuss the origins of the Target project; how they translated their detailed, techy designs within the constraints of a mass price-point; and why, at the end of the day, it’s all about the color.

How did Target approach you?
Peter Pilotto: Somebody set up the meeting, and we were like, ‘Oh, that’s great.’ We always knew about Target, obviously. We didn’t have to think much. When they asked us if we really wanted to do it, we were like, “Yeah, sure!” And the whole process was extremely pleasant. They gave us the freedom to do what we liked.

Christopher De Vos: We’re excited that, with this collaboration, we can reach a whole new audience.

PP: And we hope to reach a big audience age-wise, too—from the 15-year-old girl to the 75-year-old woman.

What was the concept behind the collection? And did you find it difficult to translate your vision to fit within the Target price point?
PP: The swimwear was the starting point. We wanted something very signature to our brand but translated in a different way—something very energetic, joyful, summery, and vibrant. We liked the idea so much that you could have a swimwear look and a skirt, and you could build up your look from beach to street.

CDV: We made almost like a rash guard, and you can wear it with a swimsuit and take off your skirt and wear it to the beach. That was the whole idea. We also analyzed our color combinations and how we could translate those. Obviously, there were limitations because of price point, but I think those limitations pushed us to do new things. And while we had to rethink our usual fabrications, we feel it’s very us.

PP: And it was exciting to work in a different way within the systems that were right for Target. We couldn’t do the engineered print that we’re used to doing, so instead, we used seams and worked on layered versions of all of our prints. I guess the collaboration was the highest amount of prints they ever did. I think often, it’s especially stimulating when you have constraints.

The palette is very in tune with what you usually send down the runway.
CDV: I think if we weren’t based in London, we’d do everything in black. But because the weather’s so gray, we’re longing for something colorful.

There is so much color coming out of London, despite all the fog.
PP: It’s very inspiring. And East London, where all the designers are based, all the artists, everybody—it’s a really good spot because of the interesting, the mix of people.

CDV: We feel like we live in a village.

Can you tell us what you have planned for Fall ’14?
PP: I think with our Spring ’14 collection, we wanted to translate our signature ideas in new ways, so we did a lot of lace and embroidery. While we’re known for the print, there is actually so much more now that we’re busy with besides the print that we love to do. It’s all about the desire for color that we try to express in different ways. Last season, we worked with lace that was engineered like the print was in the past—there were color layouts that were made in the lace, layered with print underneath. We want to explore that further, and push those techniques for Fall.

When you’re conceptualizing a collection, where do you normally begin? With this Target collaboration, you were talking about the swimwear. But is it color? Is it silhouette?
CDV: It always starts with colors. Then it’s a constant dialogue. We work together. We make every decision together. And it’s a journey through the seasons.

Photo: Courtesy of Target

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