Peter Do, 29, New York
Growing up on a small farm in Vietnam, the fashion designer Peter Do owned roughly five pieces of clothing as a child. Today, he is known for creating a sharp and tailored uniform for the modern-day woman, one that is revered by the likes of Phoebe Philo, his first boss after he graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology. His eponymous line, currently in its second year, is produced by a small, close-knit team in New York that worked around the clock to bring this spring 2021 collection to life. “The way we work is very physical; we do a lot of fittings to test each garment, to see how they wear on the body, and how they feel,” Do told T. “It wasn’t until the pandemic that I realized how difficult it was to describe how a fabric feels.” Do, who was already building an online showroom before Covid hit, believed it was crucial for buyers and editors to not only see the pieces through photographs and virtual appointments but also feel their textures, and so he and his team sent out boxes filled with fabric swatches from the collection, which debuted recently on Instagram TV. Some garments are made of silk and jersey, a departure from his usual structured fabrics, and can double as a dress or a reversible top. Others are hard to the touch: stainless steel-toed boots, workmanlike jackets and leather pants. Together, they’re a play on the idea of protecting a woman’s inner strength, he’s said. See each look here.
Olivia Cheng, 22, New York
At age 16, Illinois native Olivia Cheng was already running a small business selling vintage clothes online. Four years later, in 2018, she launched her brand Dauphinette in New York City. Similar to her early entrepreneurial days, Cheng’s debut consisted of an eclectic array of worn outerwear and bags, only this time, each piece featured a unique detail by the designer: custom embroidered flowers; colorful ostrich feathers along collars and cuffs; hand-painted koi fish, inspired by a vase belonging to her mother. This season, Cheng and her team introduce new techniques and materials, a choice that proved especially challenging given the current work-from-home climate. “I try not to dwell on the obstacles too much, as it was never a question of whether or not we would move forward, but only a question of how,” Cheng told T. In lieu of a physical presentation, Cheng will release her new collection, titled “The Career of Flowers” and inspired by a letter written by Emily Dickinson, on her website along with an access code to download illustrations of dolls in her latest pieces. Even though many of us are still mostly at home, Cheng stays true to her elaborate vision for fanciful dressing: There is an outfit made entirely of real daisies that were dipped in resin, frozen and later linked together.
Anne Isabella Rasmussen, 28, Berlin
Anne Isabella Rasmussen graduated from Central Saint Martins in 2018 and, despite pandemic-induced challenges — including closed factories and prototype delays — will launch her eponymous label next month. “The collection is a lot smaller than I had originally planned,” Rasmussen told T, “but I was more conscious of costs, and that has forced me to focus on those pieces that best conveyed my aesthetic.” Inspired by ’60s and ’70s fashion, the Berlin-based designer’s official debut features an array of outfits that both celebrate the past and anticipate the future. Expect smartly cut minidresses with oversize buttons, go-go boots in white and lime green and embellished collared shirts in surrealist stripes and prints, some of which were made from upcycled German bedsheets. While Rasmussen had plans to hold a small presentation in Paris, she will now show her collection with stills and moving images of the clothes on her social media channels. She also plans to set up a virtual showroom, and will open up her studio to local retailers in Berlin.
Samuel Guì Yang
Samuel Guidon Yang, 32, and Erik Litzén, 34, London and Shanghai
Samuel Guidon Yang’s career took off in the fall of 2016, when he debuted his sustainable women’s wear line at Shanghai Fashion Week. The Shenzhen-born designer’s contemporary collection drew inspiration from traditional Chinese garb: long shirtdresses and tunics, cinched at the waist with a thick belt; an embroidered coat tied together with red rope. At the time, his partner and former Central Saint Martins classmate, Erik Litzén, who is from Stockholm, worked for JW Anderson. It took the duo exactly one year to reunite professionally, and in 2017, they traveled back and forth from London to Shanghai, Milan to Paris, presenting Samuel Guì Yang to buyers and press. As always, the forthcoming collection looks to the East, this time with a focus on bathhouse culture in China, exploring the line between private and public personas and the ritual of cleansing oneself. At Shanghai Fashion Week in October, expect to see more modern takes on traditional Chinese clothes, as well as one onsen-inspired wrap dress that perfectly marries Yang’s draping skills with Litzén’s talent for tailoring.
Jordan Dalah, 27, Sydney and London
The Australian designer Jordan Dalah developed an interest in fashion at a young age, spending much of his childhood painting and sketching doll-like outfits on drawings of women. Inspired by the theater and Tudor-style clothes — bulbous dresses, lace collars, drooping hats, and layers of fabric and corsets underneath it all — he went to London to study women’s wear design at Central Saint Martins. After graduating in 2017, he started work on his own label with a goal of bridging the gap between costume and everyday clothing. Despite the obstacles brought on by the pandemic, Dalah didn’t tone down the drama for this spring 2021 collection: There is a dusty-pink cropped bodice with enormously puffy sleeves and a dress made from thick white silk that features vintage pleats and a ruffled neckline. He kept his focus on sustainability by upcycling dead-stock fabrics for his creations. “I want to show that even though fashion has taken a massive beating through this pandemic, creativity is still alive,” he told T. Dalah will show his latest designs virtually through an online showroom where buyers and press will be able to view the collection.