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Fashion Week standout

  • Story Highlights
  • Peter Som says his fashion clients are dreamers
  • Designer goes for elegant look that is crisp and clean
  • After high-pressure Fashion Week, Som may go skydiving
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By Hal Rubenstein
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( -- It's only fitting, since he thinks his customer "tends to be a dreamer with her head in the clouds," that Peter Som would love to try skydiving. "I'm scared of heights really. But facing my fears is something I'm into these days," says the designer. And these days, Som has every reason for that face to be a happy one.

"A collection first has to make me feel good," says Som. Actress Claire Danes in a Peter Som original.

He has survived on his own for seven years, without the backup of a perfume or a handbag line, and while adorable he may be, he has never held the title of critics' darling. All he has to show for himself are clothes that airily embrace the lighter side of a fine romance.

Trust us, finding a happy moment in fashion is not easy--nor is it all that easy to find time for.

"I've always wanted to make the beautiful things that come into my head," says Som. "What you don't realize when you're merely thinking of being a designer is that it's only going to be one eighth of what you do. There's so much marketing and finance involved. Getting that dress of your dreams on your girl means you have to build a machine to get it to her."

For a nice guy without gimmicks, Som is attempting to pull off one heck of a trick at the next New York Fashion Week: two shows -- his own and his first one for Bill Blass. Video Watch more on Fashion Week, Valentine gifts »

"Working at Blass was my first job out of school -- if you don't count my stint behind the counter at Jack in the Box," Som says. "I was way down the line in the design room back then, but what I observed was that Mr. Blass always knew his customer. He lived her life. He knew where she went and what she wanted: an elegance that came wrapped in a mood of relaxed ease so that she looked cool but felt comfortable. I think I can push my girl there a bit to see how she looks when she's dressed in designs that are a bit more crisp and clean."

Two shows in one week is a fear-filled order. Add to that Som's feeling that perhaps American fashion critics don't always root as hard for the home team: "When they're in Europe they don't have to stop on their way home to pick up a prescription at Duane Reade or drop off the kids--plus there's room service!"

Still, "it's twice the chance to get a rush seeing people wearing my designs, so I hope I'll be ready," he says. "After this next Fashion Week, I could be up for skydiving--maybe even without a parachute."

Don't Miss

His Calling Card: Dreamy simplicity in clothes that happily stop just short of innocence

Singular Triumph: Getting this far without any major corporate muscle behind him

Big Next Step: In addition to his own line, this spring he will present his first runway show as creative director for Bill Blass

Inspiration: "The Ascot scene in My Fair Lady. I just kept stopping the VCR so I could sketch every dress and every hat." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend


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