New York Fashion’s Shiny Objects: Peter Do & Chris Leba

Peter Do Fall 2020 Ready-to-Wear
Photos: vogue.com

In the months leading up to NYFW, the focus was on eveningwear, specifically red carpet fashion. Daywear was practically nonexistent from the recent 2020 Haute Couture shows in Paris. One of the most notable aspects of the fall 2020 shows in New York was the plethora of daywear, the emphasis on tailoring, and reality-based, pragmatic, urbane designs.

Secondly, in place of household names, the schedule was overrun by new young designers and labels so under the radar, they would only be recognized by plugged-in fashion insiders. Two of these are Peter Do and Chris Leba.

Peter Do
FIT Fashion Show Spring 2014

Everyone in fashion is talking about the ‘next’ Phoebe Philo. Look no further than Peter Do, who launched his eponymous label in 2018 with a group of five friends via Tumblr and quickly amassed a cult following. Peter is a master at fabrication and cut. The woman he is speaking to is defining a “new kind of glamour” in the tradition of Philo. This is not surprising since Peter worked with Phoebe at Celine where he got to know the woman he was designing for. “I learned everything from Phoebe.”

Peter Do Fall 2020 Ready-to-Wear

Do, who grew up in Vietnam and moved to the U.S. at the age of 14, showed promise early on. He attended high school in Philadelphia. In 2004, he went to Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, majoring in Fashion Design. Shortly after, Peter transferred to the Fashion Institute of Technology, where he majored in Fashion Design, specializing in Women’s Sportswear.

Peter Do Fall 2020 Ready-to-Wear

He was the 2012 Critic Award winner for the AAS exhibition, the 2013 winner of the CFDA Scholarship, and the 2014 Critic Award winner for the Senior Thesis Collection at FIT. Do was second in the FIT vs. Parsons competitive Fusion Fashion Show, and received honorable mention for the Geoffrey Beene Design Scholarship Award.

Peter Do Fall 2020 Ready-to-Wear

When Peter graduated from FIT in May 2014, he won the Graduates Award in the prestigious inaugural LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers competition. He received approximately $13,600 and a one-year contract with the LVMH fashion house Celine. This award was the defining moment in Peter’s young career.

Peter Do Fall 2020 Ready to-Wear

​Peter hosted his first presentation for SS20 in New York in May 2019. His fall 2020 collection was notable for its elongated, waist-defining, strong-shouldered jackets; the play of textures; the inventive layering and interesting proportions; the use of metal accents which even appeared on his square-toed boots. FYI, along with knitwear. Do launched his shoe collection this past fall — made at the same footwear factory used by Rick Owens and Ann Demeulemeester.

Net-a-Porter, Moda Operandi, Dover Street Market, and Bergdorf Goodman are among his stockists. I asked Linda Fargo what her thoughts about Peter were and what she thought makes him so great. She said:

“It’s not every day that a Peter Do breaks out. I will never forget seeing his first collection. Not only was it strikingly modern, but it was also very wearable, and most importantly very desirable! I personally wanted everything. I could easily see it as my new uniform. Peter is a modernist in the ilk of Phoebe Philo, and the original work of Helmut Lang, two designers he recently told me he admired, along with interestingly enough, Geoffrey Beene. I think Peter’s name will be well known in Fashion circles and beyond very soon and far into the future.” – Linda Fargo, Fashion Director of Bergdorf Goodman

Peter believes there is a void in American fashion for proper dressing, and he is betting there will be a return to beautifully constructed garments that combine refinement, comfort, and whimsy.

R13 Fall 2020 Ready-to-Wear

But let’s face it, not everybody’s cup of tea is getting dressed up daily. If you crave something a bit more rough and tumble, edgy and cool, and your idea of heaven is a great pair of jeans and a fabulous coat or jacket, R13 is the label for you. Under those 10 gallon hats, there is some great outerwear, cut in the tradition of the couture.

Chris Leba

R13 is the ultimate brand inspired by rebellion, designed by an anonymous group of creatives starting in 2009. It was not until 2016 that Chris Leba, former V.P. of Ralph Lauren, claimed ownership. From the beginning, the emphasis has always been on unique vintage-inspired denim, shredded tees, and leather outerwear with unparalleled craftsmanship

R13 Fall 2020 Ready-to-Wear

His standouts this season were the voluminous coats in shearling and upcycled leather jackets with strong shoulders. They recalled the work of Azzedine Alaia and Claude Montana, two of his inspirations for fall.

Chris’s ultra-cool, hip designs are sold at high-end stores such as Bergdorf Goodman, Kirna Zabete, 10 Corso Como New York, and Intermix, and are available on Net-a-Porter.com and Matchesfashion.com, among others. Last April, he opened his first NYC store.

R13 Fall 2020 Ready-to-Wear

It was the culmination of a dream Leba had since falling in love with cult destinations like Comme de Garcons on Wooster Street in the ’80s. The shop is located on the ground floor of a landmarked building at 34 Howard Street. Upstairs are the R13 offices and studio. It is down the street from Rick Owens and across the street from Opening Ceremony.

Today, everything in fashion seems to be open to question: from the relevancy of fashion shows to the rethinking of luxury and aesthetics. Right now, it is far more compelling to look interesting than conventionally pretty. Although they have different points of view, both designers epitomize that shift towards an unstudied luxury, a tension between the masculine and the feminine, and a new way to define glamour.

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Marilyn Kirschner
Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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