Italian fashion designer Stefano Pilati is head of design at Ermenegildo Zegna, where he is responsible for the Italian house’s couture collections.
In addition to his current role, he was creative director at Agnona, the luxury women’s brand part of the Ermenegildo Zegna Group, but stepped down from the post in July 2015.
Pilati is best known, however, for the eight years he spent helming the Yves Saint Laurent design studio. Hired by Tom Ford in 2000 as design director, Pilati was promoted to head of design in 2004 when Ford left the company.
Pilati has a unerring ability to design ahead of the curve. His designs, including the tulip skirt of 2004, are often initially met with skepticism, before going on to be widely imitated.
Prior to Saint Laurent, Pilati gained experience with many of Italy’s finest houses. Following Milan’s fashion boom in the 1980s Pilati chose to quit his studies to join Nino Cerruti as an intern.
Pilati told the New York Times that his father’s criticism made him an unhappy child. “When I was sketching something, I didn't feel alone. Eventually, I said, ‘Enough - I'm going to belong to another world instead.’ And the fashion world looked beautiful."
In 1993, Pilati secured his first significant role in fashion as a menswear design assistant at Giorgio Armani, a role he left in 1995 to become head of research and development at Prada.