Many creatives listen to music while they work. A little Andrea Bocelli here, some ’80s New Wave there. Maybe a Mariah Carey interlude to make it through one particularly high hill of the day. In his Sunset Park, Brooklyn studio overlooking Gowanus Bay where Peter Do typically designs, he does nothing of the sort. “It’s dead quiet,” he said in Paris over the weekend at the tail end of Men’s Fashion Week. “It makes other people nervous, but I can only work without noise. Otherwise, I can’t focus.” The Vietnam-born American fashion designer—who launched his eponymous brand in 2018 and was recently named creative director of Helmut Lang—was in town to present his surprise collaboration for At.Kollektive. The first inspiration for the new line he created in silence? A music device, surprisingly.
“I guess it’s a bit ironic,” Do joked as he pointed to the oval-shaped accessory. With beveled curves and a smooth leather finish, it’s the designer’s handbag version of an Apple AirPod case, replete with a magnetic hinge and a chain that allows the bag to evolve from necklace to cross-body. “This was one of the most complicated things we designed,” he said, “but actually I’ve never designed anything like any of this.”
Peter Do’s Medium Pod Bag
Peter Do’s Medium Pod Bag
Part of this year’s collaborators for At.Kollektive, Do—along with designers Nina Christen and Kiko Kostadinov—was asked to create a mini capsule of original new products using leather from the 60-year-old tannery, ECCO. Each was given total creative freedom, along with ECCO’s powerful production capabilities, to realize their dreams into physical products. While Do conceptualized versatility for the urban setting; Christen, a Loewe shoemaker and Bottega Veneta alumni dug into ECCO’s archives for inspiration; and Kostadinov focused on personal pieces for himself, such as a passport wallet, reflective of his two citizenships (he’s Bulgarian but lives in London). The Dutch architect Anne Holtrop, who was tasked with creating an environment, draped opaque, seamless hides over top tables and chairs for a haunting layered effect. The foursome follow past creatives like Natacha Ramsay-Levi and Bianca Saunders and comprise what ECCO CEO called Panos Mytaros, “a unique group of designers” that all surprised him with what they made. “They are solely unique, but as a collective, they all 100 percent loved the process of designing: from working with our leather material to the development of their collections.”
For his own part, Do has incorporated leather into his own line since its inception, but sparingly as everything Peter Do the brand makes is done traditionally and by hand. And so when it came to his machine-made, all-leather At.Kollektive collection, the sky was the limit. There is an ECCO version of the classic platform boots he launched in spring 2022, slick ready-to-wear garments that pull apart into chic layers, another clutch that impressively detaches into two, and Do’s debut sneaker, which he proudly wore himself. It’s 100 percent calfskin leather that is also water resistant.
“It was a complete dream to design all of this and not have to think about all the little different moving parts,” Do said, hinting at the operational tolls the young creative has faced over the last few years. “It felt like being just a designer again, not the face of anything or in charge of anyone.” Though he has worked at other companies before—most notably under Phoebe Philo at Celine—the At.Kollektive opportunity was a bridge between running a brand and his new role overseeing another. As far as other similarities, mum’s the word until his Helmut Lang debut this September.
Do described his Paris exhibition concept as a “room of leather,” and touring At.Kollektive’s pop-up space in the Marais there was the feeling of being lost in a deep abyss: visitors floated through the dark, cave-like interiors similar to the designer’s spiraled silhouettes of fashion on display. An hour-long film by Martin Margiela collaborator Anders Edström climaxed the scene perfectly: Maggie Maurer, Do’s long-time muse, appears in a black box sliding on and off each of the new pieces in one seamless take. With no music to steal attention, the only thing to do was stare at the collection in awe.
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