After his first runway show Thursday afternoon at the Skyline Drive In on the East River, with Manhattan as the backdrop for his new American look, Peter Do couldn’t hold back the tears.
“I’m really proud of what we accomplished because we started with very little,” said the Celine and Derek Lam veteran who has become one of the most buzzed-about New York designers in three short years.
That’s the promise of America that hopefully still exists, and the promise of the fashion industry, where so many immigrants have found success for themselves and their families.
“I wanted to show the skyline as a nod to the point of arrival for my parents, which is why I’m here,” said the designer, who at 14 moved from Vietnam to the U.S. His mom works as a nail technician and his father was a construction worker. “For us, New York has always been home. But with the rise of COVID-19 and Asian American hate, with people telling us to go back to where we came from, I’ve been thinking a lot about Vietnam.”
Which is where the collection began.
Not with a dragon or lotus, “but through the hazy lens of the women who brought me up,” said Do, remembering how his grandmother used to dress for church back in Vietnam.
Now that he has six collections under his belt, and support of retailers like Bergdorf Goodman’s Linda Fargo, he’s eased up on some of the edgy toughness that marked his earlier work. “I realized there is strength in softness,” he said of listening to customer feedback.
The result was fluid silk and linen dresses over trousers after the traditional Vietnamese ao dai styles, lighter pleated skirts for his four-piece suits and sliding-off-shoulders shirts treated almost like accessories — perfect for warming climes. T-shirts and dresses came with airy portholes in the backs — instant AC.
Covetable oversize “dumpling” bags and new styles of his sturdy boots and transparent heels should create more opportunities to buy into the brand. Meanwhile, striking floral and shard-like crystal embroideries on razor-sharp tailoring will appeal to the designer’s ever-growing Hollywood fan base. The MTV Awards are coming up this weekend after all.