Peter Som on Cooking, Tweeting and Fall

peter som
Photo: Getty Images
Peter Som

It’s good to be Peter Som these days. After a rocky stretch at the helm of Bill Blass, Som parted ways with the brand in 2008 to focus exclusively on his namesake collection, beloved by the uptown set for its classic refinement with a touch of humor.

But multitasking seems to be the life for him: In late 2009, Tommy Hilfiger tapped Som to consult on his womenswear collection—a marriage that has injected the jolt of now Hilfiger needed.

FashionEtc checked in with Som to chat about his Fall 2011 collection, his new line of Sferra bedsheets, and why, when he’s not working, he’s chopping parsley.

Tell us a little about your Fall collection.

I was inspired by Cindy Sherman photographs, her early film-stills series. I always loved the way it felt like there was a normal/not normal thing happening. At first glance things are pretty and classic, but on closer look there’s always something a little twisted. For Fall, I wanted to really go back to sportswear, playing on classic, iconic pieces like trenches and peacoats.

Peter Som Fall 2011 collection

Photos: Imaxtree

Looks from the Peter Som Fall 2011 collection

You’re known for having an uptown aesthetic, but in the last few seasons it seems your designs have gotten younger.

It’s hard for me to put an age on the customer I court. What woman wants to look old? Every woman wants to look chic, a little sexy, a little elegant. For the young customer there’s refinement, and for the old there’s something fun or unexpected. I was really thinking about what my friends wanted to wear for this collection.

How did you like working with Charlotte Dellal for the shoes?

She’s great. She’s definitely an inspiration in terms of her own personal style. This season, she took the shoe a little lower and added some surreal, optic bright touches. There’s a lot of back-and-forth [between us] in terms of exchanging of ideas. But she’s the shoe expert and I trust her taste and her instinct!

The orange pantsuit was a favorite of ours in the collection. What’s your philosophy on working with bright colors?

The collection started with classic menswear colors: navy, black, khaki, flannel gray, and menswear patterns like herringbone. Then it was about splicing those with optic bright colors like cerise and tangerine. I think about opposites—you need that balance in the collection, those pops of fun.

You recently launched a collection of Sferra bedsheets. Is this the beginning of Peter Som, lifestyle giant?

We’ll see! I love interiors. I think these days, it’s all about how you live your life: the clothes you wear, what you sleep on … who you sleep with! Bedding is no different than clothing, really. It’s been really fun.

Do you have them in your own house?

Yes! I can personally say they’re great to sleep on.

Do you have any other projects or collaborations in the works?

No, we’re just focusing on the collection for now.

What are you up to when you’re not working?

I love cooking and baking—some people do one or the other but I do both. I’m always in the kitchen. I always say there’s nothing more relaxing than chopping parsley.

What are your best dishes?

For cooking, I love braised short ribs, a good minestrone, and I love making pasta. As for baking, I’ve started making French macaroons. It’s a little more work than I’m usually prepared to do but it’s fun! I also make a lot of cakes and tarts.

How does cooking compare to designing?

There are similarities! There’s always a recipe you follow. Baking is a science and cooking is an art, and there’s a mix of both. You have to plan well, figure out the proportions of what you need, and try it to see what looks good—or tastes good!

Everyone’s always talking about digital media, Facebook, Twitter — how are you keeping up?

I tweet! I tweet anything that’s on my mind, whatever I’m interested in. It’s important, I think. Adam Glassman from O and Joe Zee are great Twitterers. Once you tweet, it’s out there in the universe, and it takes practice! I think I need to go to the Learning Annex for a tweeting class.

What’s next for you now that Fall’s done?

I’m going to Miami for a short break, but then we’re working on resort—it’s not just around the corner, it’s almost here. There’s no rest for the fashion world!