Stefano Pilati is back! After a nearly two year hiatus at the end of his tenure as creative director at Ermenegildo Zegna, the Italian designer is staging his comeback to fashion – albeit in a tasteful and lowkey manner. He's launching Random Identities, a label supported by the online retailer Ssense, and which will be sold exclusively there and later at Dover Street Markets.
Pilati is an exceedingly intelligent and refined designer. His CV includes leading the design at Miu Miu, Yves Saint Laurent, and of course Zegna. That's a broad spectrum of womenswear and menswear at its best in the industry. His Zegna, after all, really signalled a return to form of tailoring in men's fashion – a sensual elevation of classical codes deconstructed and made anew with the exactitude of haute couture.
With Random Identities, however, Pilati is staunchly avoiding capital-F fashion. Most notably, the price point of these pieces fall within a contemporary range: a far cry from the luxury labels he used to design for. Pieces max out at roughly SGD560 for a coat. This is all a reaction, Pilati said in an essay written for the Ssense launch, to a sense that the fashion industry is being overrun with hacks. That there has been a lack of focus in craftsmanship, refinement and taste. And who better than Pilati to bring these back – and most crucially, without the false veneer of a big luxury brand to burnish bad design.
Identities trades in a style informed and inspired by Berlin youth and club kids. At its runway show at the Ssense headquarters on 9 November, the men's looks were worn with high heeled boots and the models were styled to look quite androgynous. It mixed an almost militaristic utility with sensual cuts. The fabrics, silhouettes and details combine a sort of modern world-facing armor with a very beautiful languid flow. Pilati has managed to design for the everyday without sacrificing poetry. Which is really the point. As the name of the label might suggest, these are clothes for anybody – anonymous until worn, at which point the clothes embody the wearer.
But really, this collection is a much needed refresher in fashion right now. A talent like Pilati’s had been sorely missed, and there are of course rumours now swirling that he has resurfaced that he's being tipped for another creative director position at a major fashion house. Although with Random Identities, the designer seems to be making a statement against the same old system of luxury fashion as it stands – and that he used to be a part of. Tempting as the sound of, say, Stefano Pilati for Lanvin is, it’s perhaps more productive that he cut his own path.