I’ve been an admirer of Petar Petrov’s work since Vogue Runway started his collections nearly five years ago – his cut for everyday chic, easy to wear and impossible not to draw attention to – wear Dress, his silhouette was unadorned and simple—but when I hopped on a Zoom call with him last week to discuss the collection, I realized not only hadn’t we met, I didn’t even know what he looked like. It’s a rare experience at this moment in fashion, when personal branding is omnipotent and social media makes us feel like we’re living or dying, and a good reminder that a designer’s real work is in the studio, not the on their feed. You can build a business without celebrities, influencers or fashion shows.
That’s exactly what Petrov has been doing quietly and steadily throughout the pandemic in his hometown of Vienna. “Our fashion is largely about conversation,” he said on Zoom. “We work very emotionally. It’s always about the evolution of the work and who we think of as women.” The evolution is at the waistline, which he achieves not in polyester but in silk mesh. Cropped silhouettes are new here — hemlines have been on the rise since the end of the COVID lockdown — but he also showed deconstructed color-block slip dresses, which are a huge part of his vocabulary. “I like that they feel like you can slide right in and it’s not tight. I like the freedom of movement that is created,” he says.
Petrov is picky about his fabrications. The silk corduroy comes from Japan—“it’s sharp, and I like the sharpness of the cut,” he says. Denim is also Japanese, and he shows it in two ways, one with skinny skinny jeans and the other with masculine oversized jeans. Petrov, though discerning, was not authoritarian. This goes back to the idea of collections as conversations. He looks at his friends—including Elfie Semotan, photographer and favorite model of Petrov’s fellow Austrian Helmut Lang—and he listens to them too.
The hero piece was a coat he showed in Harris tweed and street leather: a very loosely cut trench coat, proportioned almost like a cape, with wide sleeves that better knead to the elbows. It is impossible not to notice every day.