In the summer of 2008, a young and restless traveler embarked on a road trip across the vast expanse of America. At 19 years old, Peter Do, with no noteworthy written work to their name, they sought to explore the country that cradled them in its capacious, sometimes harsh, yet often euphoric embrace. It was a journey driven more by the desire to escape themselves than by any clear destination. Looking back at a photograph from that time, the traveler sees a bewildered, curious, and awe-struck gaze—a look that would later be channeled into their writing.
Navigating a Shifting Landscape
During this period, America was in the midst of a shifting political landscape. Barack Obama had not yet been elected, and the nation was entangled in the quagmire of senseless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Meanwhile, in the suburbs of Philadelphia, another young individual named Peter sat at a kitchen table, his mother’s $20 Singer sewing machine from K-Mart clattering away, transforming a used pink curtain into a dress of his own design. A year earlier, Peter had experienced the loss of his father, and in his grief, he turned to sewing, seeking solace in the beauty he envisioned.
Two Artists, Two Mediums, One Journey
Through the intricacies of words and the precision of stitches, two artists, worlds apart, were inching closer to each other. Their shared pursuit was not merely the chase of a dream but a profound questioning of whether dreams alone could sustain their desire to live and breathe through their creations. The notion of crafting a life out of playfulness may seem childlike, but such is the requisite innocence that fuels the act of creation.
Convergence and Creation
As they navigated immense joys and sorrows, grappling with unspeakable grief on personal and historical scales, these two artists were constructing a shared vernacular—a language of expression. One drew from the scaffolding of words, while the other wove stories with the myriad modes of fabric. Back then, poking their heads out of the car’s passenger window, hurtling nowhere in particular, they could not have foreseen this moment of convergence, even though they were moving in circles, tracing the well-worn routes laid down by mid-century American dreams of automotive freedom.
The Helmut Lang Spring/Summer 2024 Collection
In crafting the Helmut Lang Spring/Summer 2024 collection, Peter chose to center it around the car—a symbol that resonates deeply with queer individuals. The car, for them, represents more than the realization of the nuclear family’s American Dream. It transcends being a mere symbol of industrial progress. Instead, it serves as a sanctuary—a place to escape the world’s judgment and limitations.
The Car as a Refuge and Portal
The car became a refuge, often ventured into at night, borrowed (or “borrowed”) from parents, transporting them to destinations that were non-destinations: the sides of roads, the hidden spaces beneath bridges, a field of asters past their prime at a dusty trail junction. There, they would silence the engine to engage in moments of intimacy, vulnerability, and unfiltered conversation. It was within the car’s protective confines that they could finally scream, allowing their joy and pain to be heard while stars winked overhead through the windshield.
The Joyride of Life and Creation
The car, above all else, is a room in motion—a room that miraculously travels. It’s a portal that permits them to escape this world for another, all while remaining tethered to their physical selves. In truth, they were always on their way here, wherever “here” might be.
With open arms, they invite you to join them on this joyride. As with any joyride, there’s no specific destination in mind; the journey itself is the destination. In Vietnamese, they call this “di chup gió”—the act of catching the wind. So, extend your hand out the window and let the warm breeze fill your palm. Inhale the sweet scent of alfalfa, the earthy notes of rye grass, the tang of pavement warmed by the sun, and the acrid residue of wildfires—the last remnants of nuclear plants in a world in transition.
The Deception of What They Told You
Because, my dear friends, what they told you was a lie.
Welcome to the Helmut Lang Spring/Summer 2024 collection—a journey through art and identity, a testament to the power of creation, and an ode to the freedom found in motion. Discover more on helmutlang.com.