"It's magic to me when I enter the laboratory," says Stone Island Creative Director and President Carlo Rivetti. "When we put a jacket inside the machine, we don’t know what will happen. Sometimes it’s really a surprise."
Rivetti approaches luxury fashion with the jovial intelligence familiar to a research scientist. It's this commitment to research, a continual evolution of materials and dyeing processes, that allows Stone Island to "cook" fabrics--adjusting knitting patterns, temperature, duration of heating, water-treatment, and other variables--to create individual garments unlike anything on the market. In certain cases, Rivetti and his team create jackets that are truly unique, like no other jacket on the planet.
The methods Rivetti and his team of designers employ to create them are closer to 'rocket science" than "textile manufacturing." It's living testament to the brand's core values, and the legacy of creators who've worked with the brand in its 30+ year history. Stone Island trusts that if they discover something they like, it will fare well in the free market. There's truth to this theory: the premium brand is embraced by pop culture, featuring prominently in the film Green Street Hooligans.
Today, there's more to a Stone Island jacket than how it feels. And the "colors" can't be simply captured in a single photograph, or on film, so as to reveal their complexity.
"Fabric is the DNA of the brand," Rivetti says, passionately. "In 1982, we launched Stone Island with seven pieces, one fabric, 12 colors and from the beginning, it was something totally new."
Starting with utilitarian functionality (Stone Island's first collection was inspired by military garb and reflective jackets), the brand's followed an ethos of internal discovery, a neverending quest to make clothes they themselves are excited about. Over the years, these results have become their own art objects, hence the retrospective currently occupying the front half of the La Brea storefront.
Reflective Research '992 – '015 / Los Angeles needs to be seen in person to be appreciated. One jacket, viewed at a 45 degree angle from the right will look like a solid white reflective track jacket, nothing mindblowing. But by circling the jacket and viewing it at 45 degrees from the left, one will find a silver-metallic camo pattern emerges.
Another jacket appears to be monochrome, but if it catches the flash of a camera, it reveals a complex reflective pattern.
The beauty of Stone Island is the quest to not just dye a material, but instead play with its properties, and affect how light engages the jacket (color is a matter of wavelengths hitting the retina, remember). Carlo gains clarity, and intensity as he explains that four different jackets, each distinctly different colors, are all the same material and dye. It's how long that jacket is heated that determines the precise color, he says.
Art and fashion truly merge here. Rivetti says that he has no real hard explanation for why one of the jackets turned out black. It was literally an accident, one that he found really breathtaking on the eye, and a perfect material for a one-of-a-kind hooded jacket.
Showcased in 2015 in Milan and New York, Reflective Research '992 – '015 / Los Angeles will run through March 13th, 2016.
STONE ISLAND LOS ANGELES
145 S. La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Monday — Saturday, 11am—7pm