How Stefano Pilati turned Agnona into a top cashmere brand


This is the account of an artist and creative director who held court in Paris for over 12 years, then turned his back on the fashion pack to re-explore luxury on his own terms. When Stefano Pilati took his final bow for Yves Saint Laurent in March 2012, fashion editors and fans didn’t just stand – they stomped their ovation. Following this, the Milanese designer, known for his impeccable cuts and always being two steps ahead of the pack, took nine months off. He all but fell off the radar: He wasn’t pictured at parties, gave no interviews and was barely seen about town. Eighteen months later, however, he popped up at Agnona.

The brand has been a runaway hit since Pilati’s debut collection, which was revealed in September 2013. It speaks to the industry’s most discerning critics. Tim Blanks, the influential voice of, effusively described the casual extravagance of its double-faced cashmere pieces as a “reinvention”. Suzy Menkes lauded the intricate cuts and shapes that appear so simple. And Tank magazine publisher and street style darling Caroline Issa wrote an article for the Daily Telegraph, breaking down exactly why she loves the label: “Like a person with an affliction who suddenly comes across a complete cure, Pilati managed to touch a nerve that I wasn’t even aware I had. His version of femininity and power in one complete package is an ideal I’d previously aspired to, but never found the tools to make happen.”

The brand, which debuted at Club 21 in September 2014, may be over 60 years old, but pre-Pilati, it was virtually unknown. It was established in 1953 by the Ermenegildo Zegna Group as an exclusive textile label, recognised for producing the best cashmere in the world. It had heritage and unparalleled craft behind it. Until Pilati came on board, however, it lacked a visionary with the design eye and strategy to make it desirable. Over a private dinner, chief executive officer Gildo Zegna convinced Pilati to join. “He is revolutionising the whole machine,” he told “We had finished a kind of circle in terms of innovation and innovating the cloth, but it wasn’t enough. We needed a serious creative director in order to be more attractive to new emerging clients and the younger generation.”

Read the full story at Female.

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