Pilati told the audience that assembled to listen to him talk at the French Institute Alliance Française Tuesday night that after decades of being in the fashion industry, he's not exactly chomping at the bit to create more clothes. "I started to work in fashion at a really early age, and somehow leaving Saint Laurent ended a chapter, a career I started almost 30 years ago," he said. "For some reason, I realized I haven't planned any move."
That reason could be a number of things — Pilati ran through his entire history in the fashion business, having worked in retail and as a stylist before hitting it big as a designer for Miu Miu and YSL. Fashion writer Jim Chi quoted Pilati in a tweet as saying that "it's pretty beautiful what's happened to me," referring to being replaced by former Dior Homme designer Hedi Slimane a few weeks ago. "I'm really happy, which is something I never believed I could be under these circumstances," he said. And while Pilati might not be sure what his future circumstances will be, he was more than happy to talk about his past.
On making YSL profitable with the addition of accessories: "I lived the business aspect of fashion since day one . . . It's not something that for me was like, 'What do you mean? I am a creator! Who cares if you can sell it?' No way . . . I put aside my ego, I put aside my freedom, and I worked hard to respond to what the market was asking for . . . You design something and you want every single woman or man to wear it. You know that they're going to pay for it, so you're going to get some money somewhere. Maybe it's my education, but I never thought, 'I hope nobody gets this except for me.'"
On leading YSL after Saint Laurent's death in 2008: "A lot of people started to ask me, 'Do you feel something has changed?' or 'Is it going to change for you now that he's not alive anymore?' At first, I said, 'No, I don't think so, why?' I've always tried to do my best, but in fact it had changed. I could really feel the fact that his physical presence wasn't there anymore. In a way it gave me a sense of freedom."
On how young people should approach working in fashion: "Don't lose your passion, be true to yourself . . . Go to work as soon as you can . . . Do any job in fashion. No matter what. I've been a salesperson in a shop. I've been an assistant, a stylist, done internships . . . I knew that I wanted to work in fashion. That for me was the same thing, to be a fashion designer came up, but you have to try many things."