Stefano Pilati On His YSL Breakup, Pasta and His 'Bad Boy' Phase

Stefano Pilati

Photo courtesy of Junenoire Mitchell

Stefano Pilati at the Alliance Française.

Stefano Pilati is the Jordan Catalano of fashion. Really.

Do you remember that cool guy in your grade who couldn't be bothered to take off his sunglasses and kept the back row of the classroom cracking up at his quips? That was Pilati last night at the Alliance Française. Not only did he leave his shades on throughout the entire talk—which, it's worth noting, took place in a darkened auditorium—but it was clear that his dismissal from YSL has freed him up to talk frankly. In fact, the conversation got so intimate that he joked at one point that he and his interlocutor, curator Pamela Golbin, should be sitting in front of a faux fireplace, Barbara Walters-style. Here, some of Pilati's best bons mots from last night, delivered in his Lombardy-meets-Cockney accent. No, he wasn't pulling any punches.

On leaving YSL: "Somehow, I found myself at the end of this chapter and I don't regret one minute."

On working for Tom Ford: "When he asked me for sketches, I said I didn't have any." Pilati got hired anyway. "One week after I started [at YSL] he was like, 'Oh, I forgot. You have to do menswear as well.' I was like, 'OK.'...Tom has such self-confidence that you can really absorb it; he definitely has enough for everybody around him."

On Ford's departure from the house in 2004: "To tell you the truth, it was pretty strange, because I was so into what we were doing that I couldn't really see myself going back to Italy. It was a very weird feeling. I was a bit lost, but more than lost, I felt a bit abandoned, in a way."

On his first show for YSL: "I thought that was it. They're going to fire me straight away. I was thinking, at least I had the chance to do one show at Saint Laurent...I [stayed on] so long, which is a good achievement."

On his different personae while at the house: "[I had] my 'good boy' phase, after the 'bad boy,' and the 'party boy' phase."

On magazines: "Anybody can be on the cover of a bloody magazine today, mostly because there's 25,000 magazines."

On his critics: "Sometimes I enjoyed the fact that I was a bit controversial. I kind of like the idea. It means [you] make people think."

On his awkward appearance in The September Issue: "The reality is that that was a great collection, very successful. It was a turning point for me at Saint Laurent, and was highly appreciated by Vogue. I remember being very careful to try to not be used for the sake of the narrator, like a puppet of Ms. Wintour. No, I had a splendid relationship with her. The way that it has been edited—yes, I got mad, because I had friends calling me, like, "Oh, she treated you like this!" She has the personality that she has, but I can assure you that when you talk to her, she [pays attention]. You're not there like, [mimes begging] 'Anna! Please!'...But if [something like that] ever happens again, I'm going to take my precautions." 

On the most overrated word in fashion: "Cool." The most underrated? "Elegant. If fashion was elegant, it would be nicer to walk around and see people."

On designing without knowing about fabrics: "For me, it's like, to cook pasta without water."

On Rei Kawakubo's CFDA nod: "There is justice in this life!"

On what's next for him: "Loads and loads of vacation," he joked. "Unless I decide to stay on vacation forever," he is mulling a return to design, doing "something relevant."