Stefano Pilati: “I used to divide people”
Mr. Pilati, are you done with the increasingly fast pace of the fashion industry?
Designers shouldn’t be under that pressure that the system gives you. That’s the most difficult thing that I had to deal with in the past. I learned that you have to push away the demand of people’s expectations by believing your instincts and believing in what you’re doing. That can be challenging, especially for someone that has my background, who is used to working for companies that have certain needs because you tend to put those needs before your own satisfaction.
Would you call it a personal sacrifice?
It takes a lot, a lot of energy. It also destabilizes your creative process. The experience at Saint Laurent was full on. The company was losing a lot of money, so my mission was to make it profitable. The fame, the success, the recognition that came with it — even the criticism — I don’t want to say it was secondary, but it was something that I had to deal with. My aim was to do a good job for the company because it wasn’t my line.
Frédéric Malle: “Something had to change”
Mr. Malle, do you consider seduction to be an essential part of perfumery?
Perfume has to be a magnet. It says, “Come to me.” It’s one of those languages that people speak but they don’t understand. Think of it like this: you get dressed like this in the morning, and you feel comfortable because this is how you want to appear. But then at the end of the day, you take it off. With perfume, you don’t even take it off! You are in bed with a girl and she’s attracted because it’s part of your scent — it empowers you even in your bed. It’s a fourth dimension.
Does memory also come into play in what you look for in a scent?
Well, a funny thing is that when Pierre Bourdon and I first worked together, we started creating a men’s perfume with frankincense, patchouli, gardenia… But this is actually the main structure of Miss Dior, which is the perfume our mothers used to wear! He said the most uncanny thing, “We have made the ultimate perfume for men but we built it like our mother’s perfume!” This is really twisted! (Laughs) For me, what’s seductive is the right perfume on the right person. I’m comfortable wearing this suit, you’re comfortable wearing that sweater… It’s you. If I tried to be Brad Pitt and tried to smell like him, it’s not going to be very good. But I’m myself and find what I think is right, then it’s coherent. That’s how you make the match.