Quotes + Photos: Peter Do
Even in our phygital age, where IRL and URL presentations are supposed to be equal, well, the show is
the thing. So when Peter Do set out to do his first-ever runway show for the spring 2022 season at Greenpoint’s scenic Skyline Drive the pressure was on. “It feels like we’re all stepping into a new chapter,” he said of the preparation that began early in August and lasted for nearly six weeks.
In the days leading up to his September 8 debut, Do took
Vogue along for the ride, showcasing everything from early samples to the casting process. “The focus will return to garment artistry,” he told Nicole Phelps when he announced his plans to join the NYFW schedule, and the intimate photos he shares here prove the point: making fashion happen is a painstaking, familial, and personal process. “This show is an opportunity for us to establish, rekindle, and strengthen connections within our community, while also in turn highlighting all the ways in which these communities have supported us since day one.”
Here, the designer, nominated for the CFDA’s Womenswear Designer of the Year Award at this Wednesday’s CFDA Awards ceremony, shares his NYFW photo diary.
Two weeks before our first show. I can’t believe we’re doing this but we’re moving to a larger studio space today at Industry City [in Brooklyn]. I don’t recommend moving design studios before a fashion show! But the new studio has incredible light, overlooks the water, and brings a new energy for our team.
This photo is from August 31 when we just launched the last dress with our Midtown NYC factory. Our pattern maker Kenny is writing notes directly on the muslin and staying late to finish the pattern so it can be sewn tomorrow just in time for the casting on Wednesday. James (far left) and Jessie (far right) are stressed but excited for the show! For the collection, I started with this photo from when my parents first met in Germany in 1988 before I was born. It could have actually been the day when my parents met. My mom is wearing a white ao dai holding a flower. She gave me this image earlier this year when we began speaking of her past; it was the beginning of the collection. Just received our flower embroideries from our NYC workshop, which were made using a special machine that dyes threads as they are embroidered. I’ve always found special workshops in the Garment District and continue to partner with them as we grow. Stitching embroideries onto final garments. The florals are very traditional “Asian” embroideries in a sense—you often have floral embroideries on ao dai garments or in matching ensembles. I wanted to literally thread through some of that heritage into the collection. Our fit models are coming in! We fit a coat and place the floral embroidery by hand on where the design would fit best. It’s an exacting process. Here’s Maggie Maurer in the coat to close the show. I always feel a sense of relief when I see Maggie. She’s been an integral part of Peter Do since the beginning; she’s family. The coat has the exact flower placement as the photo of my mother—feels like a missing piece of the puzzle in this whole show planning has been solved. Feeling good with the entire floral group together—a huge step completed and the collection feels closer to real.
Just got our first group of “Spacer” tailoring back from Italy, including the important ao dai piece that I know is going to open the show. Spacer is a fabric we developed in-house from the very beginning; it’s one of our signatures. We are doing a lighting test for the coat and thinking about the show, how the coat will read in broad daylight. Seeing the “Spacer” group just in from Italy—I have to remind myself that it’s not over yet. Feels like time is running out as we need to have this entire group embroidered in the next week before show time… Each coat takes a team of two to embroider with Swarovski crystals. We are just getting started and feeling slightly frantic with the time left, but putting trust in the team to get it right. Embroidery check. I want the crystals to imitate water droplets, even sweat. The idea is to place the crystals as we go, so that there’s a human quality to it, not a machine vibe, so that each coat has a different pattern. It’s the first time we’re using embroidery as part of our vocabulary and a test—it looks right. Two days before the show and feeling the stress. We are finalizing the casting, a big part of the story we want to tell, with Nicola Kast, our longtime casting director. Anh Duong is a legend who’s part Vietnamese and who has become a mentor and part of our family. I’m getting goosebumps when Fernanda comes in. We met on Tumblr even before she was a model, like in the early days when she was a random girl and I was a random student on Tumblr. It’s crazy to think about how we used to spend hours blogging shows and here we are. Fernanda used to even come to the studio and help us sew in labels or pack production! It feels special.
I want the casting to feel like a good representation of people who have supported us and also a representation of New York City. There are different ethnicities and different bodies; we want to be as diverse as possible and capture that mix of New Yorkers that we know and love. Three days before the show—it was a late night with the team. This is stress central, a tough moment trying to edit down to 46 looks when it seems like there are hundreds on the board. This part of the process feels both easier and harder—harder because it’s our first show. We don’t know 100% who’s going to wear looks, it’s changing by the minute. Team members An, Bebe, and Pablo are making it easier together. Each of us wants different things in the collection and has different opinions, but we are going to find our perfect balance. It’s still stress central though. Our first new bags have dropped in 7 p.m. on Saturday night and it feels like a miracle—a miracle from Worldnet, bless them. Pablo is giving the “Hinge” bags their first test drive and giving attitude, too. It’s a full house with our hair and makeup test right before show day, working with Mustafa for hair and MAC’s Aaron de Mey for makeup. I wanted the look to read NYC in a way, where the clothes are polished but the hair and makeup feels on-the-go, like you got out of the shower and are on your way to work, doing hair and makeup on the train—or as if you’re caught in the rain. Our in-house good luck mascot Uni, who’s witnessing all. Definitely keeping a positive attitude just knowing Uni’s here. Backstage on the day of the show. So much is happening and the second the collection arrives and is set up, I take a quick pic to mark the moment. We are just about to hit peak chaos and I am thankful for everyone here backstage. The Dizon production team is in full “go” mode and the Peter Do team is walking through final touches for all of the looks. The gorgeous Elsa Peretti pieces on loan from Tiffany & Co. for the show day. When everyone’s getting more and more tense backstage I take a moment to take in how far we’ve come. These feel like anchors of stability. Snapshot of front of house, the NYC stage we’d envisioned for months. Taking a last moment to take in the skyline by the water by myself to take a deep breath. Feels like we’re all stepping into a new chapter and all of our families are coming with only a few hours left. First looks shot by Montis Songsombat, our in-house photographer who has finally returned to NYC from the past year and a half in Bangkok. Feeling lucky to be surrounded by family. After this second it’s showtime. Ready.
*This is an article from VOGUE published on November 8, 2021; See the original article here.
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