I’ve been an admirer of Petar Petrov’s work since Vogue Runway began posting his collections nearly five years ago—the everyday chic of his tailoring, the easy-to-wear, impossible-not-to-get-noticed-in dresses, the ornamentless, simplicity of his silhouettes—but when I hopped on a Zoom call with him last week to discuss this collection, I realized not only hadn’t we met, I had no idea what he even looked like. At this moment in fashion, when personal branding has become the be-all-end-all, when it can feel like we live and die by social media, it was a rare experience, and a good reminder that the real work of a designer is in the studio, not on their feeds. That you can build a business without celebrities or influencers or fashion shows.
That’s precisely what Petrov was quietly, steadily doing throughout the pandemic from his home-base of Vienna. “Our fashion is a lot about conversation,” he said on that Zoom. “We work very emotionally. It is always about the evolution of the work and the woman in mind that we have.”
For fall, the evolution came in the almost architectural shape of shoulders on both suits and short leather dresses and in the body-con nip of the waist, which he achieved not with polyester but with silk net. The short length is new here—hemlines have been inching higher since the COVID lockdowns ended—but he also showed deconstructed color-blocked slip dresses that are very much part of his vocabulary. “I like that they feel you can just slip into it and it’s not uptight. I like to create freedom of movement,” he said.
Petrov is particular about his fabrications. The silk corduroy is sourced in Japan—“it’s quite sharp, I like it when the tailoring has a sharp feeling,” he said. The denim, too, is Japanese, and he showed it two ways, shrunken and close to the body, or mannish and oversized. As discerning as he is, Petrov isn’t dictatorial. That goes back to the idea of collections as conversations. He’s looking at his friends—who include Elfie Semotan, the photographer and favorite model of Petrov’s fellow Austrian Helmut Lang—and he’s also listening to them.
The hero piece is a coat he showed in both a Harris tweed and a street-ready leather: a trench cut very loose with almost cape-like proportions and generous sleeves, the better for scrunching up to the elbows. Everyday and impossible not to notice.