LONDON – Peter Pilotto is the winner of the inaugural Swarovski Collective Prize, a 25,000 euro, or $28,610, award for innovation that marks the 15th anniversary of the crystal maker’s fashion creative platform.
The 14 labels from London, New York and Paris that are taking part in this year’s program competed for the prize, which will be revealed here Tuesday. They include Mary Katrantzou, Marques Almeida, Prabal Gurung, Rodarte, Iris Van Herpen and Masha Ma.
“Peter Pilotto has a unique aesthetic,” said Nadja Swarovski, a member of the company’s executive board. “Christopher [De Vos] and Peter presented two beautiful collections which showcased the versatility of our product and how it could be incorporated into, as well as complement their own strong brand signature. It’s been interesting to watch them experiment so successfully with our crystals over the past two seasons. In addition, we were also very pleased to see the evolution that has taken place in their own collections recently, and to be a part of that process.
“For both spring 2015 and autumn 2015, Peter Pilotto explored an abundance of bold new applications and materials, from Perspex to 3-D florals, which they then contrasted with more delicate Swarovski crystals. In the last collection we loved the icy flowers embroidered in contrasting wool which were decorated with bright, large stones to create a very unique, romantic and futuristic motif,” she added.
Pilotto said he and fellow designer Christopher De Vos get a real buzz out of pairing the crystals with contrasting materials to create something new.
Since they began working with Swarovski in fall 2010, they’ve used the crystals to embellish floral jacquards and black denim, and even paired them with rustic yarns. For their spring 2015 collection, they set the crystals into silicone rings to create flower appliqués.
“It’s important for us to have a contrast – and also to create something new,” Pilotto told WWD. “The crystals are a very strong element, and always present a challenge. We are not at the end of our journey with Swarovski.”
The Collective was founded by Nadja Swarovski in 1999, after she began working with designers such as Lee Alexander McQueen, Julien Macdonald and Philip Treacy while they were still at the beginning of their careers. The company has since worked with more than 150 emerging and established designers through the program, which encourages designers to use the crystals in unconventional ways for their runway collections.
Katrantzou, who has printed upon, flocked and rubberized Swarovski crystals during her 10 seasons working with the Collective, told WWD earlier this year that Nadja Swarovski and her team have a way of pushing designers to new limits season after season.
“They are a driving force of ideas, the ones giving you a nudge at the beginning of a season. They force you to be really inventive, to think how the crystals are going to fit into your next collection,” she said.
Van Herpen said that she has been able to develop 3-D, translucent, architectural fabrics “where we pushed the boundaries of a new technology, and the collaboration between architecture and fashion.”
As for the prize money, Swarovski said: “It is entirely up to the designers to make best use of the fund — they really have a better understanding than anyone else on where or how the fund should be invested.”
Pilotto said he and De Vos will use the prize money for fabric research and manufacturing, and to experiment with new techniques and work with suppliers they admire.
“We love prints — they are part of our DNA, and we’re always exploring new ways of doing them. It’s a dream for us to be able to add new suppliers and partners,” he said, adding that the company has been working of late with embroiderers in Italy’s Veneto region and jacquard specialists around Lake Como.