FLORENCE--For their presentation as the guest womenswear designers at Pitti W, Peter Pilotto and Christopher De Vos geeked out. In the very best way.
The London-based designers are known for their prints and this season (their second ever resort collection) they went in a decidedly more high-tech direction, creating patterns using a specially-designed computer program. Think of it as a digital kaleidoscope: Pilotto and De Vos came up with some imagery as inspiration (illuminated manuscripts from the 16th century and Celtic designs) and their art director/website designer Jonny Lu coded a program to generate patterns based on those images, each one different from the next--like fashion snowflakes.
"I designed their website but this is the first time they've used the digital process to create the prints," Lu told me. "I designed the program and then I sat with them for many hours and they kind of curated what we programmed. They would be like 'I really like this shape or that shape'--it was a long collaborative process."
The storied palazzos of Florence proved the perfect location to showcase Pilotto's utterly modern computer generated prints. "We were talking about how endless the possibilities were [using this program] and how we had to do a presentation with it but at the same time we knew we couldn't do it financially," Pilotto said. "And then a week later, Pitti called."
And so Pilotto and De Vos knew exactly what they wanted to do at Pitti, which was essentially to tornado through the Palazzo Borghese, a structure that dates back to the 15th century, and leave their digital prints strewn everywhere in their wake. The carpets on the wooden stairways, the walls behind old marble statues, all of it was covered in geometric prints from Peter Pilotto's resort collection. In one room, a screen, controlled by an iPhone (what else), projected the computer generated prints that interacted with the party, the prints becoming more dynamic as the party picked up steam.
But leaving parts of the original palazzo on display--the chandeliers, sculptures, the marble--was important to Peter Pilotto, too. "I think what's interesting is having this digital environment within the traditional palazzo," said De Vos."We wanted to make sure that you could see the contrast of all the features of the palazzo against the constantly evolving digital screens."
So what's next for Peter Pilotto with this groundbreaking new technology?
"I think we want to carry on having more presentations and thinking how we can use do online presentations as well," Pilotto said. "The possibilities are endless," De Vos said, a phrase that both he and Pilotto uttered many times through the course of their presentation, but one that certainly bore repeating because, well, it's so true.
Click through to see more photos of Peter Pilotto's Pitti installation.