Peter Do’s eponymous brand was founded in 2018, shortly after being awarded the LVMH Graduate prize during his studies at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Do seeks to create clothing that is centered around a few clear core ideas—tailoring, structure, and letting the clothing speak for itself. Such themes tend to show up in his collections across seasons, which notably only release twice a year rather than the fashion industry’s usual four times per year. For Do, cohesion is key, and that’s clear when looking at the backless suit jacket that has appeared in multiple collections and has now become a staple for the brand.
When he was named new creative director of Helmut Lang in early 2023, the fashion world was abuzz with excitement about the energy that this designer, who was quickly rising in the ranks as an industry favorite, would bring to the formerly iconic brand. Do has frequently cited Lang as an inspiration, and expressed this sentiment to accompany the announcement of this exciting move. “No one embodied radical thinking more definitively than Helmut Lang," Do said. "It is my deep honor to be entrusted with ushering in the next chapter of Helmut Lang's legacy. I am excited to learn from the foundations this house stands on and to continue creating new, energetic clothes that inspire people to challenge their understanding of what is possible when it comes to expressing their individuality.”
Having immigrated to the United States from Vietnam at the age of 14, Do’s cultural heritage has always played a role in his work. Now, he has brought these elements of his design inspiration to Helmut Lang. The designer’s debut collection was titled “Born To Go,” and accompanied by show notes that included an essay written by award-winning Vietnamese writer Ocean Vuong. Vuong contextualizes aspects of queerness, grief, the American Dream, and the role each of these things play in the creative pursuits of both artists and their connections to one another.
During the show at New York Fashion Week, a poem by Vuong was printed on the runway itself, and words by the poet appeared across the collection, likely a nod to Helmut Lang’s collaboration with artist Jenny Holzer in the 1990s. “This is how I carry us / for in your skin I’ve placed my trust” reads one shirt. Words in Vietnamese are also found printed on clothing in the collection, allowing the two artists to showcase their ethnic heritage in a way that is uncommon for a predominantly white industry like luxury fashion. “For the first time, a Vietnamese American is at the helm of this radical and groundbreaking fashion house—and one with such an immensely beautiful mind and heart as Peter Do,” Vuong shared on Instagram. “My work here has been treated with the utmost respect, care, and dignity, and I’m truly proud of what we’ve accomplished.”
Published on September 20, 2023