“My grandmother was a very sophisticated woman with a sharp eye for detail and knowledge of quality…I am sure this had influence on me,” says Peet Dullaert. The Dutch designer is the first one to admit he designs for women with a strong point of view. “I really appreciate woman who have a mindset of ‘this is what I feel good in, this is what I feel comfortable in.”
It’s a mature viewpoint for 26-year-old designer only three years out of college. But Dullaert has received guidance from the best. An internship at Lanvin during his third year of study at the Fashion Department of ArtEZ Arnhem in Holland saw creative director Alber Elbaz “show interest in my work”. Then guidance from one of those strong women whom he admires, Baroness Hélène de Ludinghausen (former head of sales for Yves Saint Laurent Haute Couture) led to valuable feedback from Pierre Bergé, long-time business partner of the late designer Yves Saint Laurent.
Dullaert explains the philosophy behind his designs as “the pure connection between the wearer and the garment”. Style.com has described his aesthetic as consisting of “delicate details, sharp cuts, high-quality fabrics, and effortless construction”. For autumn/winter, his streamlined tailoring perfectly strikes the balance between everyday practicality and refined luxury. All designs, including his signature wide-leg Concorde trousers, find their shape via draping techniques before a pattern is ever created.
“I cherish a deep love for fabrics that can be moulded into shape,” says Dullaert, who has worked closely with The Woolmark Company since experimenting with Merino wool in his graduation collection. “Natural movement is essential to my designs; the natural resilience of wool makes it an ultimate fibre to work with… when you wear it, it has a certain softness, it sits in a certain way, it’s light in a certain way. The result is a liberating range of designs that offer women a modern brand of effortless elegance.
“In the end I’m not designing for myself, I’m designing for the women that wear the clothes,” says Dullaert, who is based in Amsterdam but shows his collections each season in Paris. But, despite France’s reputation for inimitable style, it’s Holland - the land of supermodels Lara Stone, Doutzen Kroes and Daphne Groeneveld - that provides the ultimate inspiration. “What I love about Dutch women is their work attitude. They have focus and own their game.” Driven and empowered - just the way Dullaert likes them.
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The announcement of the British Isles finalists kicks off this month’s regional awards round