Peter Do is surprisingly calm when we meet. It’s about 15 hours before he’s set to unveil his spring/summer 2024 collection, his first show to be held in Paris. His team, distinct for their monochromatic uniform made up of Do’s signature tailoring, are putting the final touches to the collection, as a trail of models come to get fitted in their looks, before disappearing again into the balmy Parisian afternoon.
“I’ve been working no stop for the past 5 weeks,” says the 32-year-old, who opened New York Fashion Week at the beginning of the month with his first collection as creative director of Helmut Lang. “I don’t think I could do it without a really strong team.”
He’s spent the last six years building a well-oiled system at his eponymous line, that even with his new appointment (where he’s been working 4 days a week), continues to move along with ease. “It’s really calm here because people know me and they know exactly when I do or don’t like something,” he says. “Whereas at Helmut, it’s only been 4 months so I’m spending more time there. Both brands are very different so I’m exercising a different part of my brain for both sides.”
Moving to show in Paris – where Do previously lived and worked under Phoebe Philo at Celine – is a smart move. Not only does it offer an air of separation between Do’s two day jobs, but it firmly establishes his long-term goals for both brands.
“Helmut was dressing a lot of different people in the world and I hope to do the same; I want to go beyond that. I want people, like my mum, to go to the store and be able to buy a dress that doesn’t break the bank. Where you can spend $300 on a pair of jeans that will last you and are made with care, finesse, and integrity.”
The shift benefits Do’s own label, too, which is a far more intimate affair. “One of my things with [Peter Do] is that I’m always speaking to the 1% of the world: that’s always something I’ve had a problem with. We have a younger crowd that loves the brand but can’t really afford it,” says the designer. “I feel like Helmut was my solution to that. I can focus on catering to different groups instead of feeling under pressure to grow [Peter Do] bigger and wider every season. I can stay like this. I can be organic, I can be small, I can do what I want to do and stay authentic.”
Coming off the back of his Lang debut, where he was tasked to re-establish the brand’s codes for a new generation (as well as win over the brand’s loyal following), for his own line he wanted to make “grown up clothes” that echo his own maturity as a designer. “I feel like I’m moving to a different chapter in my life and I want my clothes to reflect where I am.”
Staged inside Palais de Tokyo, he sent out an elegant procession of roomy suit trousers, colour-blocked eveningwear and sharp tailored jackets with arched shoulders, curved lapels and nipped in waists.
Amongst the offering – which also included elongated white shirts and sheer halter neck tops – was the designer’s debut collaboration with At.Kollektive. Launched by Ecco leather in 2022, the clever scheme, which unites leather innovation with visionary design, each season invites a group of designers to create a capsule collection of leather accessories, clothing and even sometimes furniture. Following the inaugural At.Kollektive designer group, which included Bianca Saunders and Helmut Lang’s former first assistant, Kostas Murkudis, Do is joined by Kiko Kostadinov and Nina Christen as the next talents to join the initiative.
“I was like a kid in a candy store,” says Do of first visiting Ecco’s factory in Amsterdam. “I’m a business owner so there’s a lot of restrictions and parameters I must follow. With Ecco, anything was possible.”
With facilities previously unavailable to him now at his fingertips, Do utilised Ecco to push his design capabilities. He envisioned the brand’s first sneaker. Architectural in shape, with custom hardware throughout, the shoe is designed to be light enough that customers could wear them day in, day out (even whilst working out).
It’s a modular capsule collection, where everything is designed to be interchangeable. A bag separates in two to become a clutch and a tote, for instance, and slick, leather ready-to-pieces come with removable sleeves, collars, and trouser legs.
“I always liked to own less and buy better. If I can give people those options, so you buy one piece and you can transform it and find a new way to wear it, I think it’s worth your money,” he says. “Leather is a precious material, so when we make something, I don’t want to add more waste. I wanted to create something you can re-wear and pass down.”
One of the collection’s most notable pieces is an immature calfskin leather clutch built to house your AirPods. “I love Apple products,” says the designer, “there’s aways something reduced and exact about them. Some AirPods were just lying around when we were drawing the bag and we thought, “How fun would it be to make it in that shape?’”
For Do, working with At.Kollektive is “how the brand can branch out into the world without sacrificing the quality of our product”, using Ecco’s logistical and financial structures to produce on a completely new scale. “I haven’t been this creative working on a product in a long time. It’s nice to have that parameter where there’s one colour, one material and there’s an end goal to the project. It was great to use my brain in that way. It’s nice to just be a designer, I haven’t had that in a while.”
Photography Christina Fragkou. Pre-order Do’s debut At.Kollektive collection here.