Stefano Pilati Works Through Anxieties With Symbolic Ad Campaigns

Although we were disturbed to read Yves Saint Laurent designer Stefano Pilati damn his predecessor with faint praise (“Tom [Ford] is talented but not gifted. That’s the way he managed the business.”) in Lynn Hirschberg’s recent New York Times Magazine profile, he does reveal the thinking behind the fashion house’s recent ad campaigns. The dazzling spring/summer 2008 campaign (pictured above), photographed by Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin, featured Kate Moss lurking outside Paris’s Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent Foundation, which was created to prolong the history of YSL and is independent of Gucci Group, owner of the label since 2000. Although wearing head-to-toe YSL and clutching a series of Pilati’s sumptuous handbags, Moss can’t seem to get in the building and so settles for alternately peering in and banging on the windows, finally striking a languid pose in the doorway. It’s a reference to the shaky relationship of Gucci-controlled YSL with its namesake designer and Bergé, his longtime partner. “You don’t know if she wants to get in or they are trying to keep her out,” Pilati said of Moss in the campaign. “That mirrors my anxiety.”

As for the choice of ornery supermodel Naomi Campbell as the star of YSL’s fall 2008 campaign (also photographed by van Lamsweerde and Matadin), “Everything is symbolism,” said Pilati. “Naomi represents the new world—in my mind, she is a mix of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.”