Somewhere in the crush of revelers, actor, Beef hunk, and SZA music video star Young Mazino slouched with the bashful air of a newly crowned internet boyfriend. “This is my first Fashion Week, but I’m starting to understand that it goes deeper than the threads,” Mazino told me. He saw the show too, of course. “Towards the end, when they had everybody intertwining and intercrossing, it gave me nostalgia back to when I lived in New York and I would be out on a lunch break or walking in Flatiron or something—that frenetic and yet peaceful energy.”
At the end of the room—past the beleaguered bartenders wiping their brows in their white epaulet-topped jackets, past some partiers being particularly cavalier about their auditory health, bobbing inches away from the speakers—I spotted the author Min Jin Lee holding court with Nam, Young, and some Samsung suits. I asked Lee, who was sporting a dress from Do’s eponymous label, what she thought of Vuong lending his prose and poetry to Helmut Lang. Do poetry and fashion mix?
“The literary world has always been disdainful of commerce, for good reason, and yet I also believe that it’s deeply anti-feminist to not respect fashion,” Lee mused. “I think what I find difficult is the expense and the cost that’s prohibitive. However, the wish and the aspiration—I admire it and don’t in any way put it down.”
As the night wore on, the question of Do’s attendance was raised. Might the notoriously private designer (not unlike Lang himself) prefer to skip the rager—or at least have the whole matter of a forthcoming Peter Do SS24 show in Paris to attend to? I ran into Vin Ho, one of the cofounders behind Do’s eponymous label, by the bar. Ho and Do had first met on Tumblr before launching the label with friends five years ago. So how did it feel to now watch his friend take on the big new job?
“You have to put on different hats—as a friend, I’m so happy that [he] has this opportunity to show his talent on the global scale,” Ho told me. “One thing that I do really admire about Peter is that he also has a really keen sense on the business.” Then Ho smiled cheekily. “Maybe not the best, because I don’t know why we need, like, four-ply silk instead of two-ply.”
Finally, just after midnight, fashion’s greatest hope himself walked in—or he tried to, at least. Do, still dressed in his black Helmut Lang lab coat and usual face mask, barely made it 10 feet into his own party before hesitating at the sight of the crowd. We ducked out near the coatroom to chat instead. What was his state of mind right then? “Sleepy,” the designer confessed, adding that he’d been awake for about three days straight and spent most of his show crying. “I feel like I’ve been sprinting for so long.” We spoke a bit about the collaboration with Vuong, which Do described as creating a “beautiful dialogue.” Back in the day, Lang famously collaborated with the artist Jenny Holzer, I noted. Was Vuong his Holzer? “I don’t want to compare him,” Do said of his friend, adding, “I love that in his writing, we are the heroes.”
Finally, I asked what Do’s mother—whom Do seated in the front row and hugged after taking his bow—thought of the show. The designer told me about the dress she’d been wearing, which was featured in the collection. “She said it’s one of the most beautiful things she’s ever worn,” Do told me, the pride in his voice unmistakable. There are some reviews that simply matter more.