By Julie L. Sagoskin
Prince Federico Pignatelli is the socialite and visionary behind Pier 59 Studios, the world’s most renowned photo studio complex. Jet setting Prince Pignatelli, who also serves as the owner and president of The Art and Fashion Group, had the vision to build New York’s most well-known space for cover shoots, runway shows and everything in between. Step inside this visionary’s Pier 59 office, overlooking the water, and you will find Italian style furniture, some of which he designed himself, and a mix of art forms on the walls. Pignatelli has always been ahead of his time, and now he says he knows what the next big thing in fashion technology will be.
How would you describe your style? How would you describe fashion?
I’m not a fashionista, everything I wear is handmade from my tailor in Napoli. I don’t buy things on the shelf, this is my own style. I’m not a fashionista in the sense of following trends. Fashion is about making our body another piece of art, it is an expression of art that we wear, even the phenomenon of the jeans. The casual fashion in the United States has become a trend, a lifestyle around the world, and that too is fashion. Fashion is about expressing your moods, expressing your wishes, you can be casual or elegant, semi-casual, semi-elegant, you can make your own look.
What was the inspiration behind Pier 59 Studios?
I have a passion for photography, and when I first saw such an incredible space in the heart of Manhattan in 1993 which was abandoned for 45 years, I saw it as a beautiful, unique opportunity. It is a perfect space for creativity, the water has a certain energy and tranquility and you don’t hear the noise of the city in the studios. In Italy we use every square foot so I thought let’s put this incredible space to use. That’s why photographers and clients continue coming back; we created a space for them to feel comfortable and to express their creativity and ideas. When you create you express your emotions. I am proud to have contributed to giving life back to Chelsea which is now home to fantastic hotels, restaurants, and is the most happening part of town at night.
What is one of your recent projects which you are most proud of?
I did my first book, “The Great Beauty,” where over 40 percent of the photos are from video. It’s the first book of its kind in that it combines pictures from both a camera and video camera. It is an example of how technology is changing, and also how art will be evolving into motion; we won’t just be looking at still photography, but will enjoy art in motion. Photography is an expressive contemporary form of art, which is rapidly going into videography,I would call it video photography.
What was your vision for the Pier?
I wanted the studio to be a place of creativity, a place in which artists could realize what they want, how they want. I just provide them with a blank space, huge, high ceilings, no columns. They can create whatever they want with all the technology, lights, camera, video cameras, etc. I give artists the tools to make magazine spreads, videos, anything they want.
How is Pier 59 helping the fashion industry expand?
Established artists, photographers, models, stylists all come here as we are the top. We also help young talent and emerging artists experiment with new ideas. Fashion week is another example of bringing creativity into this space; that’s what fashion designer does, he creates a look, a lifestyle. We are here to provide them with support, giving them the space. Fashion shows are not the most rewarding financially but we want to encourage and help the designers by giving them an opportunity to show their work. We can have three runways in the same place, so people can see several shows at the same time.
You’re an international jet setter, what are your favorite spots when you’re in the city?
I like a couple lounges, like Provocateur, Soho House, and my Italian restaurant downstairs in the studio.