By  on June 10, 2009

NEW YORK — Stefano Pilati has some thoughts about the unforgiving speed of fashion trends, and New Vintage, his latest project, represents the Yves Saint Laurent designer’s definitive statement on the subject. The capsule collection, which launched exclusively at Barneys New York here on Monday, is made from a recycled cotton drill from the YSL archives. Where many fashion designers try to incorporate organic and eco fabrics into their collections, New Vintage gives a new twist to the notion of sustainability. “For me, my aim was more in the challenge, actually,” Pilati said at the event. “It was trying to give fashion a value that is a bit beyond the visual aspect or the consuming aspect.” Pilati credited Julie Gilhart, Barneys’ senior vice president and fashion director, with encouraging him to do the collection. “Stefano and I have talked about doing something more conscious,” Gilhart, herself considered a pioneer of the green movement in luxury retail, said at the party. “He came up with the idea of going into the archive, and looking into the fabrics and reusing them.” The New Vintage collection of 60 or so pieces, including handbags and shoes, is priced at $500 to $2,400, with an average price point of about $1,000. The fine cotton drill fabric didn’t come from the time of the late Saint Laurent himself, but rather was taken from excess fabrics from the past 10 years, starting with Pilati’s time working for Tom Ford at the fashion house. Each piece features a special New Vintage label and is numbered, underscoring the limited nature. Midway through the party, most of the pieces had already been snapped up. Pilati had articulated his aim prior to the event in a “manifesto,” calling New Vintage “a general attempt to give a sensibility and an education to our public so that it can act consciously toward its environment,” and a way to “start a dialogue with the market using known codes and a common language that are reassuring and familiar.” “New Vintage is my way to reflect our social and economic state by capitalizing on existing resources to translate sustainable ‘values’ into ‘forms,’” he added. For him, the concept is also a riff on the “merciless speed of fast fashion,” he continued, “and what we miss in the consequent public readiness and enthusiasm to consume fashion, reducing it more and more to shallow parameters. The result is a compromised cultural dynamic wherein the traditions of skill and know-how that we and fashion represent are dismissed or overlooked, where systems of evaluation are distorted, where integrity is clouded by a theater of marketing and trend.” Simon Doonan, Barneys’ creative director, offered his take. He said this collection is also a way to be “nimble” in these times and “an example of thinking outside the box.” Yves Saint Laurent chief executive officer Valerie Hermann said the project also served as a way to “please” the customer, “to give him or her [the desire] to buy. It services a customer to have a limited series.” There is no imminent danger, though, of running out of fabrics, she said, adding: “We can do many things like this.” “I want a safari jacket made out of Loulou de la Falaise’s old safari jacket,” Doonan interjected. “We can do that for you,” Hermann said lightheartedly. “We can find something very special for you.”

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