As Peter Do Ascends at Helmut Lang, Fashion’s Youthquake Continues

The label’s newly appointed creative director is the latest example of unexpected “up-and-comers” being tapped to reinvigorate storied fashion houses.

Peter Do, creative director of Helmut Lang. Credit: Mario Sorrenti/Helmut Lang

In 2019, Surface profiled a 27-year-old Peter Do, highlighting the up-and-coming fashion designer’s commercial success alongside his ability to “quietly challenge the established fashion system.” The following year, Vogue hailed him as one of New York City’s “most exciting new talents.” He then went on to become an LVMH Prize finalist and in 2022 hosted his eponymous label’s first New York runway show. In three days, the 32-year-old will start his new gig as creative director of Helmut Lang.

Do, who has named Lang as an influence, is the latest in a slew of young, accomplished designers with ample cool cachet and a distinctly modern perspective appointed to helm—and reinvigorate—a storied fashion house. In 2011, at the age of 25, Olivier Rousteing ascended to the role of creative director at Balmain. He made the French fashion house an early adopter of social media; entertainment and events followed as he cultivated mainstream appeal by costuming Beyoncé for her Coachella performance and A-list talent in a Jay-Z-produced Western. In March, he and Beyoncé collaborated again, this time on an haute couture collection of one Balmain look for each of the 16 tracks on her new album Renaissance.

Matthew Williams, creative director of Givenchi. Credit: Paolo Roversi/LVMH.

Rousteing has now sowed his many successes at Balmain for more than a decade. He remains one of the few unaffected by a recent changing of the guard that has seen half of the creative directors at roughly 40 houses hold their positions for five years or less. Among the crop of recently appointed talents is Matthew Williams (pictured above), who became creative director at Givenchy in June 2020. A former LVMH Prize finalist, the 34-year-old racked up industry accolades and accomplishments in quick succession. He landed collabs with the likes of Nike and Kim Jones for Dior men’s before landing the top job at Givenchy.

Williams has confronted the difficulties of taking over a fashion house with a prestigious name but nebulous visual identity—a problem he attributed to high turnover—by mining inspiration from the archive of Hubert de Givenchy. “Isn’t that exciting to have somebody reinterpret something in a modern way?” he said. “We don’t need more old clothes. Right? We want new clothes.”

Maximilian Davis, creative director of Ferragamo. Credit: Filippo Fior/Gorunway.

Last year, Salvatore Ferragamo reintroduced itself with a new logo, creative director, and truncated name days before its Milan Fashion Week runway show. Twenty-seven-year-old Maximilian Davis recused himself from the 2022 LVMH prize to take the helm of Ferragamo, as it is now known. For his debut Spring/Summer 2023 collection, he revisited the Italian house’s lore in the form of a red runway and a number of red garments, taking inspiration from a pair of pumps founding designer Salvatore made for Marilyn Monroe. It was with his sophomore Fall/Winter show that Davis began to hit his stride, honing in on the clothes instead of the brand’s own mythos.

With no end to ‘90s nostalgia in sight, we’re willing to bet that Do has more than a few trips to the archive planned for his debut collection—but we’ll have to wait until September to find out. Previous interviews suggest he will stay out of the spotlight as best he can and let the clothes speak for themselves. “There’s so much noise in the industry,” he told Vogue Runway. “It feels like everyone’s trying to scream the loudest with nothing really important or of substance to say.”


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