Bringing Sexy Back:
The Debut of Dundas

By Megan Hayes

 

“Energetic, sexy-chic and louche but happy.”
I think I speak for every woman when I say,
whatever that is, sign me up.

 

Well the “that” is Dundas, the ready-to-wear label launched by Peter Dundas, one which he used the above words to describe. Debuted in Paris during the recent Couture shows, it reminisces everything we loved from his days at Ungaro, Pucci and Cavalli: ‘70s flares, minis meant to show off great legs, fabulous, flowing gowns and no shortage of sequins. Translation? The dream party wardrobe designed for the woman who’s no stranger to fun. And in fact, it’s already It-girl approved: Emily Ratajkowski wore the black jumpsuit to Cannes and Georgia May Jagger’s denim mini (look 8) has already garnered the most likes on the label’s Instagram.

 

Sure, the collection is admittedly “image-driven,” full of a richness infused with a rockstar attitude. However, these are the type of clothes that take more than a first glance to appreciate, something Dundas argues is what makes them so luxurious and special. He points to look 23, a jumpsuit made of what looks like lace, but which is actually a mix of appliqué and embroidery. “The fur coat is sheared in a technique that makes it light and easy to wear,” he says, noting that “the blue suede maxi coat (look 24) is entirely hand painted.”

 

Star power, sex appeal, skilled artistry and a spot on the Couture calendar; Dundas is what you might call a stacked deck. But with all of the fashion labels, what’s different about Dundas? Why now? Who inspired this collection? And beyond the models—and after the Beyoncé moment—how important is the red carpet? I sat down with Dundas to get the answers to these questions and more about his debut collection available exclusively at Moda.

You’ve worked previously at Ungaro, Pucci and Cavalli. From where/when did the idea to launch your own collection come about?
The idea to go solo came about two years ago but my partner Evangelo Bousis and I decided to wait a little as I had just started another project.

 

Was there anything in particular that motivated you to start off on your own? And why now?
Everything is changing in fashion and it feels like the right moment to introduce a new brand. For me it was also a natural evolution after heading three houses to start something of my own.

 

With so many fashion labels in the market, what is different about Dundas?
I want DUNDAS to cater specifically to my girls (and boys) not only in style but also in their shopping experience and in the story behind the company. How and where everything is conceived and made is important! Being on Moda was a way to connect directly with my girls.

 

Where do we see your past experiences (at Ungaro, Pucci and Cavalli) manifesting in the Dundas debut? It felt like there were nods to each—was that intentional?
Yes, I think this first capsule redefines what I love and also reconnects with my girl. I think my girl has always been the same no matter where she is.

 

How would you describe the spirit of the collection?
I wanted a rich and generous spirit for the collection. As a first outing it was of course quite image-driven. I like my clothes to reflect the people I love: fun-loving, sexy (but not vulgar), colorful, opulent, baroque with a dash of a louche rock star attitude. I don’t want the vibe to take itself too seriously nor do I care for that in people.

 

Is there any significance to the silhouettes you included? Any materials or design techniques that you’d like to call attention to?
I felt ready for short silhouettes again. This was definitely important to me. The body is also always key for me. A lot of the fabrics are very intricate appliqué work. At first glance the black jumpsuit (look 23) looks like lace but is actually appliqué work mixed with embroidery. The black and gold gypsy dress (look 5) the same. The fur coat is sheared in a technique that makes it light and easy to wear. The blue suede maxi coat (look 24) is entirely hand painted. I think it’s nice to discover the workmanship in clothes when you look closer but not necessarily at the first glance. It is definitely what makes them luxurious and special.

 

I read that the lion on one of the concert tees was a reference to the tattoo on your arm. Are there any other pieces in the collection that have personal significance?
Everything in the collection is personal for me. The black panther on the look 3 concert tee is a tattoo on my arm. It also re-appears as a tattoo-like embroidery on the one shoulder long black dress (look 23). The purple cape has two lions in the back motif, which are taken from my family crest. The Poppy print in Look 12 and 14 has my “D” (D for Dundas) design mixed with the poppy flower, which is one of my favorite flowers. It’s all part of the story I wanted to illustrate with this capsule.

 

The lineup featured everything from an ‘80s sequined jumpsuit to a gypset black and gold gown. Was there any specific point of inspiration?
The inspiration was really my girls and what I was into for them this time. Somewhat 1700 meets 1970 but more than anything it was redefining the girl and bringing her back to my world.

 

I’ve always loved your mood boards. What was on this one?
The mood boards are always a working tool for me and the collaborators. A lot of music references: Keith Richards, Debbie Harry, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Amanda Lear, Diana Ross. Photographers like Helmut Newton and Guy Bourdin; actresses like Angelica Huston, Brigitte Bardot and Jane Birkin. Oriental interiors and Art Deco architecture. Iconic designers that I love such as YSL and Balenciaga. It’s really about putting down whatever I love at the moment of conception for the collection so we can cross reference as we go along.

 

Who were this season’s muses?
Muses ranged from Debbie Harry to Diana Ross to Amanda Lear. Also my girlfriends were very important. You find them with me on Instagram (@peter_dundas).

 

How does it feel to have launched your own project? Is there a new freedom in that?
It feels great to have launched my own project. It is very liberating to reappropriate my own codes under my own name.

 

Is there something newly rewarding about sending out a collection that bears your name?
Connecting with every aspect of the process was really rewarding and felt very healthy as a designer.

 

Your designs have been a favorite of mega-watt celebrities, most recently Beyoncé. Where does the red carpet fit into your plans for Dundas?
I want to connect the red carpet more with the collections than I have been able to in the past. It is an important communication vehicle and it is a big part of who I am.

 

Did showing during the Couture week have any impact on your designs? Was there a couture influence?
I think showing during Couture probably gave me a sense of freedom in the richness and the elaboration of the workmanship. It is always part of what I do but it felt right to not put limitations on this. Dundas is about dreaming!

 

What pieces are you most proud of?
Choosing favorites for me is like a parent having to choose a favorite child. It’s impossible! I love the band t-shirt dresses of Look 1 and 3 because I collect and wear them a lot. I love the appliqué work on the gypsy dress of Look 5 or the featherlight work on the rock star kaftan on Look 7 or the blue jumpsuit.

 

What three words would you use to describe Dundas?
Energetic, sexy-chic, generous, honest and louche but happy.

 

What would you say are your strengths as a designer?
My goal as a designer is always to make a woman feel her absolute best.

 

How important is it to you that your woman feels sexy in your clothes?
I think there is a strong connection between how you look on the outside and how it makes you feel on the inside. If I make a woman feel more confident, desirable and special then I am happy.

 

Do you plan to continue to show in Paris during Couture?
We are as a company at that great moment when we are discovering and creating our path. I want it to happen organically. Although I was very happy showing during Couture I want to explore other possibilities in the future. Maybe again during Couture but we will see…

 

Where do you go from here?
We have another capsule in the works, then a pop-up store this autumn. The future is bright!