StyleWeek Northeast Designer Profile: Jonathan Joseph Peters

Written and Photographed by: Siobhan Duncan

DSC03176Boston isn’t the first place to look for innovative, avant-garde fashion. Most of the designs that originate in and around Beantown seem to be deeply rooted in New England classicism; collections are pretty, elegant, but not particularly daring or inspired. So it’s always refreshing to see regional designers push the envelope.

Jonathan Joseph Peters has chops — an alumnus of project runway, he’s no stranger to zaniness and creativity in the face of challenges. So it comes with little surprise that his was the most successful show of the night.

The night started with Luke Aaron who seemed to show your typical fare: conventionally pretty, well tailored, and sophisticated enough for affluent Bostonians. The second show, JAS, aimed high in its attempt at quirky originality, but ultimately seemed to miss the mark.

As we reconvened a final time for Jonathan Joseph Peters I had high hopes, and I have to say they were mostly met. Set to a soundtrack of Thrift Shop, Missy Elliott’s Pass That Dutch, and Ms. New Booty, the clothes were suitably upbeat and fun. The collection was anchored around a palette of oranges, reds, navies, and black, set off in pops and unexpected combinations. Peters’ exploration of pattern was interesting and lively, though I have to say I preferred the trendier plaids and houndstooth pieces to those with the painterly face and kaleidoscope prints.

DSC03186The best looks were those that focused on outwear and more fitted garments — the blue plaid dress with red ruffle neckline and bold orange houndstooth coat were personal favorites. Other instances of styling were less successful — a black blazer, floral and red chiffon babydoll top, and navy wide-leg trousers felt slapped together and the proportions made for an awkward, baggy look.

I had another minor qualm with the makeup and hair — the models came down the runway overly powdered, with heavily arched eyeshadow, gaudy hoop earrings and, my god what is on her head? was my initial thought. I’m still not sure, but I think it was something along the lines of a nearly bald wig cap with an unfortunate sprout of bangs. Jolie-laide beauty styling seems to be more difficult for emerging designers to pull off, which is a shame, but it was ultimately distracting from the clothes themselves.

Still, I applaud Mr. Peters for his collection. It gave off a clear vibe of fun and inventiveness. It seems fit for a girl who’s playful in her style, loves color, likes to catch people’s eye, but doesn’t take herself too seriously. I’d actually like to see more of those in Boston.

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