IN CONVERSATION WITH PEET DULLAERT
In the realm of design, Peet Dulaert is a notable figure known for pushing the boundaries of convention. Numero NL had the opportunity to sit down with the Dutch designer to discuss his influences, his career, and the unique blend of art and innovation that characterizes his work.
Your latest collection serves as a reminder to celebrate people and the planet. How do your designs convey this message, and what impact do you hope to achieve?
The work done reflects modern life. How we move forward, our posture of today: how we hold our phones, sit behind a desk, and how clothes that move with us apply to that, embracing people’s actual silhouette, all genders, and all various body types. Keeping in mind the planet there is our collection creation process that takes shape through the responsible production cycle of a collection creation and after that how we make each piece in our Ateliers in Paris.
Instead of trying to fit your body in a particular mold, the way we shape the designs directly on the body without sketching or patterns, allow in combination with materials for an unconstrained fit, with freedom of movement that has always been essential to my beliefs, as this is what I believe moves us forward. Being enabled to be free.
It is essentially about the concept of clothes that breathe a pure spirit and their lightness. Vital to me is that next to being authentically shaped, the pieces are made to be empowering our bodies by embracing them, instead of trying to change them.
Can you share examples of specific elements in your collection that reflect your connection to both people and the environment?
The way we work is the first one, a continuous search for innovative ways to offer a responsible alternative in luxury. This season new fabrics are introduced made of “Tencel™ Luxe” via a new collaboration backed by innovation and savoir-faire with “Orange Fiber” based in Sicily, who developed with Italian weaver named Taborelli, a fabric woven in Como, of Tencel™ Limited Edition filament yarns and spun with fibers made from certified wood and orange-peel pulp from Sicily. The collaboration involves an entire chain of people focused on a beautiful way of savoir-faire creation, and new possibilities for truly responsible luxury to be worn.
Being a longstanding collaborator of Tencel™ Luxe since its inception, I feel what connects us is the dedication and focus on responsible and modern design, with forward-thinking savoir-faire, our partnership enables us to create a better world together.
Can you elaborate on your philosophy of redefining beauty in the fashion industry, as mentioned in your show notes?
Straight to the point; a general fashion trap is to make you feel this is what you need by using factors of significant influence and social pressure. It is not authentic. My team and I do not enjoy working this way, and my aim will always be to offer space where your choices are your own. I am not asking you to be anyone else than who you desire to be while I take you into the universe we create. For example, we don’t work with a mood board, but drape shapes and design freely. When we take photographs we dream, but there is no Photoshop to change someone’s appearance as we work with people. Staying connected to reality, in order to feel, is what moves us forward as a community. The objective is a connection based on pure intuition, which I believe can only always be beautiful.
What inspires your work and your focus on celebrating the diversity of human silhouettes?
The diverse group of people around me inspires me, our exchange, and the conversation with those close to me. For me, this reflects life. This also delivers a pure conversation on individual body shapes as garments take their ultimate form in harmony with the wearer. By creating this way, we’re able to truly speak about inclusion and non-labeling – an important step that looks beyond the conventional and starts the real conversation about personal freedom.
Could you explain the significance of “Cousu main” and the emphasis on handcrafted couture in your designs?
A historical French term “ Cousu main” simply is not done anymore by even most of the couture houses where machines have found their way into the ateliers. The process requires an incredibly solid hand, a hand needle and thread, and an incredible devotion with patience and a sound understanding to shape unique one-of-a-kind pieces. Which in the end, is a true savoir-faire, and with that: real luxury.
How does your commitment to handcrafting impact the creative process and the final products?
The commitment is everything. It is the guideline to honor, and it is what makes the pieces so incredibly unique. There is only one.
You mentioned a commitment to sustainability and a “Care for Earth” pledge. Could you tell us more about your sustainable practices and initiatives?
Besides that we focus on advancing with material, an ongoing initiative to further our responsible production cycle is the “Care for Earth” approach introduced in early 2014, where a percentage of every purchase goes towards non-profit organizations aiding in clearing oceans and planting trees in the Amazon rainforest as well as an effort to do our part in trying to reverse deforestation. I have seen changes caused by climate change myself – Oasis’s drying up, crumbling lands, and people having to relocate. Seeing this and knowing that a lot of money is made from exploiting the Earth, I strongly believe that we have to give back.
How do you balance the ideals of sustainability with the demands of the fashion industry?
My belief was always been an organic approach. Looking to the future, with a sound way of expansion away from traditional wholesale and excessive marketing. Instead, the house has been building a fluid strategy based on solid products and organic growth. This genuine approach is not subjected to territory. We simply exist because of our customers, and I am grateful for them loving what we do.
What are the advantages and challenges of creating couture fashion primarily through handcrafting rather than using machines?
It means going back to the real flou and tailoring, in an industry where most things appear to be, but are not what they are. I understand this dedication to a true quality is not for everyone, but the beauty of this craft is the fact that the process is entirely personal.
Photography by Elodie Chapuis, coolk8girl, and Omri Rosengart