Stefano Pilati is Yves Saint Laurent; it’s hard to separate the two. From taking over the helm as creative director in 2004, the Italian designer seamlessly slipped into YSL mode with his effortlessly sleek, tailored approach to woman-meets-masculine dressing. So it seems unfitting that such a designer should be linked to Björk, the indefinable and eclectic Icelandic singer: the pop star who wore a swan to the Oscars. But as the 46-year-old puts the finishing touches to Björk’s stage outfit for her Biophilia stage series, he talks to Dazed about his relationship with the singer and it turns out the two have more in common than we first thought.
Dazed & Confused: How did the collaboration with Björk come about?
Stefano Pilati: It happened naturally. I have long admired her work so the idea to collaborate proceeded organically. It was about the exchange and execution of ideas and inspirations. We worked on several proposals for jumpsuits – she wanted this silhouette specifically, a kind of uniform – so I sent various ideas, and in the end she focused on a shape from S/S09. Based on this pattern we did research into fabric, colour and embroidery possibilities, taking into account the vision Björk had for the look, which was something very much related to Biophilia, an aesthetic formed around planetary systems, crystal formations, the expansiveness of the universe. It was all done via email and telephone and a series of fittings in New York.
D&C: What motivated you and a house like YSL to collaborate with Björk?
Stefano Pilati: The result is at once symbolic of an idea of Saint Laurent – with the iconography of the jumpsuit – and Björk’s solar system of ideas for Biophilia. Björk’s bold freedom of expression, the interdisciplinary exploration in her creative enterprise, the otherworldliness of her artistic gestures – these aspects fuel a creative collaboration such as this, and give it a uniqueness that extends beyond the boundaries of fashion, music and performance.
D&C: Do you ever take inspiration from music?
Stefano Pilati: Music can certainly inspire, but what is most evident is that it sets a mood, it gives an attitude to the air and it can eventually provide a context, an envelope, for fashion.
D&C: Do ideas of science and nature ever inform your work?
Stefano Pilati: The research I do for the collections is as much about fabric and silhouette and colour as it is about construction and the ‘making’ of the garment or accessory. There is a mathematics and science to the artistry of fashion that is essential to its success and impact, and it is what separates true luxury from the high street and fast fashion.
D&C: Where do you go to get inspired?
Stefano Pilati: I dig into my brain and my dreams; I try to be as imaginative as I can to find vehicles through which to express my fashion.
Björk: “I met Stefano through a mutual friend; she was wearing an irresistable jumpsuit and when I contacted him to try to make one out of real raw crystals, he was not only up for the challenge but spent weeks researching that natural element with fierce enthusiasm! My new crystal jumpsuit feels like it has gone through millions of years of development in a hidden cave somewhere…”
Text Kate Hazell