Every now and then a young designer is given the “prodigy” label after working at some of the most renowned fashion Houses. They maybe even have their namesake brand and, ultimately, land the coveted role of creative director at an established brand. That is exactly what happened to Peter Do, the young designer who has been in everyone’s mouths this fashion month.
Before being appointed to Helmut Lang, Do (pronounced ‘dough,’ not ‘do’) was already on an illustrious path. Born in Vietnam, Do moved to the US in his teens before attending the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. Twice, he caught the attention of the LVMH conglomerate, once in 2014 winning the Graduate Prize, and again in 2020 becoming a Young Prize finalist. And just like that, Do became the next it designer to watch out for.
Do is as elusive of a designer as it gets. He shies away from interviews and would rather let his work “[speak] for itself,” as most recently demonstrated in his SS24 show notes. What we do know about him is that he worked under everyone’s favourite ghosted designer Phoebe Philo during her time at Céline (pre the CELINE rebrand), before starting his eponymous line in 2018.
Although eponymous, the Peter Do brand is hardly a one-man job. It’s a collective made up of Do and his close friends who also happen to be his colleagues. One quick scroll through the @the.peterdo Instagram that really just is a moodboard and you’ll get the picture.
A Phoebe Philo association is often summed up with a simple word: minimalism. While there are similarities between Philo’s and Do’s modest approach to design, minimalism is a word that has been refuted by Do who prefers the word ‘reductionist.’ It’s a slight difference that lies in the fact that Do’s design approach isn’t minimalistic at all, but reduces the final output to the essence of its messaging.
The New York-based brand is instantly recognizable through its largely muted, black-and-white colour palette and play on classic tailoring, often deconstructed through backless and sleeveless details and adorned with some sort of lacing technique. It shares the same sensibility as Ann Demeulemeester, Helmut Lang and Phoebe Philo, which Do has named as some of his inspirations.
The designer’s appointment to Helmut Lang was a full circle fashion moment – the student becomes the master. Most would agree this fit makes perfect sense and for his debut SS24 collection held in New York, expecting a merge rooted in a monochromatic palette. Though Do actually surprised all of us by incorporating flashy colours.
Bright yellows were used as a reference to New York yellow cabs, a significant citation considering Lang was the first designer to put advertorials on the side of taxis. During the ‘90s, Lang entered his colourful era by inserting pasty pastels onto mesh tops and suits. This was cleverly repeated for Do’s SS24 debut at the brand, taking an unexpected approach that still won our hearts.
Peter Do has achieved so much in so little time, including having survived the pandemic years when countless small brands were forced to shut down.
Do is consistent, innovative and all-encompassing in the way he approaches designs, and at times, unpredictable. His growth both at his own brand and at Helmut Lang is something we’ll be watching very closely – and you should too.
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