Adrian Cowen and Diva Pittala met in London but moved to New York to pursue designing clothing together. After launching Pleasure Principle in 2002, they've successfully carved out a niche in the always popular urbane/androgynous market. Think skinny jeans with slits at the knees, graphic t-shirts, and sporty hoodies, all done in a very cool, (and easy to mix-and-match) neutral palette. We sat down with the duo to hear about their love for all things black and famously morbid prints.
When and why did you launch Pleasure Principle?
In 2002. After 9/11 we decided to start a new collection called Pleasure Principle, relating to the Freudian term meaning to seek pleasure and avoid pain. We decided the collection would take everyday clothes as a starting point which we would customize and
manipulate into completely new kinds of garments. So, from simple T-shirt shapes, for example, we came up with garments that could be worn in multiple ways, and that could be customized by the wearer, to create new unseen shapes. In this way, we attempt to blur the line between sportswear and high fashion.
How do you come up with your prints? They have a darker edge to them, like hearts made of razor blades--is it about subverting warm cultural symbols, giving them a more morbid twist?
There you have it! We like to think that the prints are fragments of a personality or a glimpse of an imagined life. The references are drawn from the more obscure, dark side of pop culture.
Most of your pieces seem like they could be worn by either gender. Is androgyny thought of as you're designing or just a result of the shapes you like?
Part of the collection has been about taking generic items like the over-size T-shirt and using that as the starting point for more abstract designs, so from this point of departure some items have an oversize draped quality that works for either gender. When designing pieces that are specifically women's wear we avoid the cliches of typically 'feminine' decoration, which may result in the items appearing unisex. This season we shot the women's collection on a particularly androgynous male model, Martin Cohn, so yes, androgyny is definitely part of our work.
Black and white dominate your palette for the most part. Any chance you'll move into color anytime soon?
Yohji Yamamoto said that black says, "I don’t bother you – don’t bother me!" And we also like grey a lot.