Fashion Quote: Stefano Pilati on Being a Designer

I think this quote from Yves Saint Laurent’s creative director pretty much sums up the reason why I am not still in Europe working as a fashion designer. And considering the whole fashion world has been speculating about his sacking for the past few years, I think this quote feels appropriate for the moment. Don’t forget to read Suzy Menkes’ piece on the way we are treating designers.

“Today [fashon design] is a real office job that goes beyond any normal conception of what time one should devote to work. I work 24 hours a day, essentially. I have to make a collection every two months. You have to be in shape; you have to be more athlete than rock star.”

Stefano Pilati, fashion designer, fashion quote

Anyone who thinks that being a fashion designer, especially a high profile one, is all fun and games, should think again. (Hint, hint, to all my fashion students.) I love Pilati’s point about being more athlete than rock star, I think the world perceives the role as a fun job where you get to be creative and draw dresses, but the reality is far from that. Design is only a small part of the job, with public appearance and meetings taking up a lot of time, not to mention all of the deliverables. It takes a toll, and you need to be up to the challenge mentally and physically. The first challenge is to put a great show onto the catwalk. Then, it needs to sell. And if it doesn’t, boy, you are in trouble.

He also made some interesting comments about John Galliano.

“Today, excess has to be kept within the private sphere. […] You have to come to terms with your responsibility and choices. […] If you stand on that stage next to Charlize Theron, you have to be able to stand up and talk coherently. […] You can do what you want, at home. But when you go out, keep it together.”

This message is relevant to everyone, not just designers, especially in a day and age where your social life is usually publicized on various social media. Stefano is pretty well-spoken, isn’t he? I am a bit sad that he is out at YSL.

Quote from Vogue.co.uk. Images of Stefano Pilati from here.

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  • Jill

    I’m sad too that Pilati is out at YSL. Where does he go from there? I’m not sure I am a fan of Hedi Slimane but I will try to keep an open mind. What do you think of the direction of YSL? Is Slimane a good fit with the house?

  • Anonymous

    I am not a fan of Slimane, but perhaps he will re-invent himself. I too will keep an open mind… And as far as the direction of YSL… I don’t know. Slimane hasn’t designed in some time, so it is difficult to say what he will do.

  • Eve

    I’m actually quite nervous about Hedi  Slimane taking over YSL. He clearly has an affinity for ultra-thin models of the same race and look (remember this article? http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/07/fashion/shows/07DIARY.html?pagewanted=all), and I”m concerned he is going to masculinize a super feminine brand. 

    YSL loved all different types of women and really did an excellant job of incorporating different cultural influences into his design without coming off as an orientlist (and this is coming from a woman of color), unlike Kaiser Karl who did the whole bombay express-inspired runaway show last season without ever stepping foot in India or the Indian subcontinent for that matter.  Maybe YSL did a better job than most designers ever was because he grew up in Algeria.  And why would they give the creative directorship to a first-time womenswear designer? Seems really insulting to the YSL brand. 

  • Jasper

    so sad, stefano pilati seems like a genuine person, a true artist, and is definitely an amazing designer. life is unfair! 

  • Anonymous

    Some really good points. And I agree Slimane has no idea about dressing women, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Slimane has not been appointed yet, I thought it was a shoe-in, but now that there are rumours that DIor isn’t hiring Simons, I am having doubts about all of this gossip.