Helmut Lang announced that the label has appointed New York-based designer Peter Do as the new creative director on May 10. The news was brought to the public through Helmut Lang's official Instagram account with a black and white portrait of Peter Do's back and a snippet of information regarding his background in the fashion industry.
In a statement, Peter Do expressed his genuine longtime adoration for the brand, "No one embodied radical thinking more definitively than Helmut Lang. 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."
Peter Do is known to report directly to Dinesh Tandon, CEO of Helmut Lang. Tandon stated that Do's clear and innovative approach to design very much aligns with the brand's ethos and heritage. His experience with luxury fashion houses and his acclaimed eponymous label will make him a natural choice for this role.
First launched in Paris, France, Helmut Lang is a fashion label founded by a self-taught Austrian designer Helmut Lang in 1986. Lang began his career in fashion in 1977 in Vienna with a made-to-measure studio before opening a boutique in 1979 and establishing his eponymous label in 1986. The label is renowned for its sleek suit and denim with raw edges and loose thread as touches of unfinished look to the pieces. No one put jeans on the runway until Helmut Lang did. The pioneering designer also used technical fabrics in a fashion context long before it's commonplace to do so. In 1998, Lang also became the first designer to showcase his runway online. As an autodidact, Lang often pulled inspiration from art instead of fashion, which resulted in avant-garde clothing. At once utilitarian and sensual, the designer has created a sleek and minimalist design language that informed the way we dress today while also being impossible to replicate.
In 2004, he abruptly left the label entirely and retired from fashion to focus on art. Since then, he has been based in New York City and Long Island as a practicing artist. The label then became a subsidiary of Fast Retailing, from the Prada Group. Many names have filled the vacancy of Lang as creative directors, namely Michael and Nicole Colovos who lead and take the label in a contemporary direction, leaving the artistic and edgy point of view of its founder. The brand cycled through designers including Isabella Burley, Alix Browne, Mark Howard Thomas and Thomas Cawson until the spring 2020 season. A notable addition to Helmut Lang's list of designers is Shayne Oliver, who held the post as a designer in residence for a short but sweet period. As the label moved between hands, the style codes had been losing the touches of the well-known namesake. Since then, the label has been led by an in-house design team until Peter Do is entrusted to take the wheel.
Peter Do himself was born and raised in Vietnam. He studied fashion at the New York's Fashion Institute of Technology. Do's aptitude for fashion shows early, as his graduation collection in 2014 received the LVMH prize for young fashion designers. During his early years of career, he worked in the ready-to-wear atelier of Phoebe Philo's Céline and then at Derek Lam. Some fans even expected him to take the reins in Céline after Philo's departure. In contrast to Lang who built his fashion career based on his passion for art, Peter Do has a strong root in fashion—evidenced by his educational background and deep appreciation for the discipline in a reflective manner.
After working with big names, Do launched his own label in 2018. His codes of design revolve around oversized silhouettes, modernity, minimalism, which often incorporate unexpected details and experimental fabrics. He gained recognition from the fashion industry for his innovative cuts that showcase his impeccable skills with both fabric and drape. His modernity in style codes managed to make his clothes both classic and sexy without just plainly showing skin.
So far, Peter Do has 10 collections and three NYFW runway shows under his belt. In recent years, Do has been a media darling for dressing Moses Sumney, Jeremy O. Harris, K-Pop star Jeno from NCT to open the label's spring 2023 show in NYFW and Johnny Suh for the 2022 Met Gala.
Do's ingenuity for deconstruction and preferences for androgynous design is quite intertwined with Lang's. His tendency to focus on tailoring on the body by playing with cutouts and transparency to give off that sexiness has been his signature style—which parallels Lang's affinity for sensuality, which makes Do's distinct sensibility a natural fit for the label. Other than the aligned styles and design languages they both have, Do and Lang both reject the way the fashion industry is centered around the designer as a celebrity. We all know that Peter Do always disguises his face in photos and Lang broke away from runway spectacle in '90s to prioritize intimate presentation. Peter Do himself once told Vogue Runway, "There's so much noise in the industry, it feels like everyone's trying to scream the loudest with nothing really important or of substance to say."
Now that Peter Do is scheduled to start his job in Helmut Lang on May 15th, the challenge he's going to face at the house is to rebuild the minimalist precision and sensuality that Helmut Lang was once known for. Perhaps, the designer would lend some of his powerful principles in clean lines and minimalist sexy cutouts to Lang—bringing the house's utilitarian eroticism back. By all means, Do's new "playground" is sure to be an exciting one to watch.
As stated in the announcement, Peter Do will showcase his debut collection for Spring/Summer 2023 during New York Fashion Week in September this year.(DIP/alm)