Peter Do has designed the ultimate AW21 wardrobe for night owls
The Vietnamese-born, NYC-based designer is quickly becoming the arbiter of the chicest clothes on the planet.
All images courtesy of Peter Do
“I've been thinking a lot about night,” says Peter Do (pronounced ‘dough’), the New York-based designer who arguably makes the chicest tailoring on the planet. A self-described “night owl”, Peter has been bolted up in his Brooklyn studio dreaming of life after lockdown, and after dark. After all, New York is the city that never sleeps — even if nightlife has been dormant. Hence why his AW21 collection has a nocturnal spirit, which is a departure from the distinctly-daytime, office-appropriate tailoring (albeit with a severe, knife-sharp edge) that has made the designer the apple of every hardcore fashion pundit and style-savvy celeb’s eye. It’s not just a romantic whim, but a savvy business decision too, considering that most of us will be working from home for the foreseeable, even as lockdown eases. Right now, the ultimate sartorial fantasy is eveningwear — not in the ballgown-and-gloves sense, but rather dim-lit clothes for going out-out. “There's a different dialogue that you have with yourself at night, and a different set of rules,” the Vietnamese-born designer adds.
One word: glamour. Peter’s new collection plays on the archetypes — perhaps even clichés — of louche, after-dark dressing. There are rooster-feather corsages, lipstick-red shearling coats and plissé skirts, velvet trouser suits, metallic-leather jeans and armour-like trenches. In other words, it’s all the things that the ex-Celine designer (he was the youngest on Phoebe Philo’s design team) despises — a world away from the austere, monochromatic trouser suits that he has become known for. Or, at least, he thought he despised them. “I started the collection with a lot of elements that make me uncomfortable,” he explains. “It’s all the things that you wouldn’t usually associate with us, but I feel like you won’t grow without that level of discomfort.” The tug-and-pull tension of translating them into the Peter Do universe was what made the collection a bold step forward — designing for pleasure, rather than principle.
“Women who put these things on want to be seen, and there's a sense of bravery that I want to embrace,” he said. “It felt right for the moment, to be brave and dress for pleasure, and for yourself.” Amen to that. Peter is pushing himself forward, perhaps the benefit of having a radically inclusive way of working. His label, after all, is actually a collective of five co-founders (they all met via Tumblr!) who pool together their skills to pull apart the seams of fashion’s unhealthy work culture and hard-edged image. Peter cooks for the team every week, much like fashion’s papa Azzedine Alaïa did, and there’s an emphasis on conversation and problem-solving. Sounds normal? Sadly, it’s a rarity in the toxic world of fashion.
As a result, in just three years Peter has built a brand that is a lifeline for New York’s fashion scene, not just in terms of design — but also because he’s committed to manufacturing as much as possible in Manhattan’s Garment District. Half of his collections are made in New York, a couple of miles from his studio, and the rest in Italy, mainly because of its unrivalled leather craftsmanship. It’s why, despite only being a toddler in terms of mileage, Peter’s clothes and accessories are just as luxurious and made-to-last as his previous LVMH-owned employer’s.
Besides, these are clothes for grown women, for whom power dressing isn’t a fantasy, but a necessity. The women in Peter’s AW21 look book and movie (it was shot on 16mm film by director Eric K. Yue, so let’s call it a movie) look confident and self-assured in their looks, as if they went out and bought it themselves. The models Maggie Maurer (who he met when she was Phoebe’s fit model at Celine), the legendary ‘super’ Debra Shaw, artist-actress Anh Duong, as well as Mia Kwon and Steph Shiu, who also did the ‘soundscape’ for movie, reflect the women in Peter’s life who he constantly looks to for inspiration. They are the ones who have helped him define the “Peter Do woman” — even if there’s many, not just one. “They are constantly proving what is chic and proving me wrong about certain things,” he explains. “Surrounding myself with these incredible women with different styles has really inspired me to push things forward and try new things. Why not put a bird on your sweater and wear thigh-high boots and latex?” Now that is something to look forward to.