A Conversation With… Peter Dundas

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Peter Dundas headshot

Peter Dundas, 42, began his career working in theatre costume design in Paris before being headhunted by Jean Paul Gaultier. He has since worked at Christian Lacroix, Roberto Cavalli, and Emanuel Ungaro, and is now the creative director of the Italian fashion house Emilio Pucci. He lives between Florence, home of Pucci, and Paris, and has a holiday house in Greece. Here, he shares his thoughts on everything from ambitions to taxidermy.

Routine
I’m usually awake by 5.30 a.m., but I don’t actually get up. I answer e-mails on my BlackBerry or laptop from my bed. I like working in bed very much. Then I’m generally up by 7.30 and into the office at about 9 a.m. In the summer, I have breakfast on my terrace with a beautiful view of Florence. I eat the same thing every day: porridge with fresh berries. For the past 15 years, I’ve also had lemon juice every morning. I squeeze the juice of one lemon and top it up with cold water and sugar. It’s a natural antibiotic, which is probably why I never get a cold.

Norway
I grew up in Oslo, in a forest right by a lake, with my father. My mother died when I was four. My father was quite old when I was born, 51, and wasn’t very up on what little boys and girls wore. I had to figure it out myself. I had my first sewing machine when I was six years old, altering and making clothes. My cousin still has some of the clothes I made for her.

Ambitions
As a child I was very interested in acting as well. First it was at school, then I worked as a child actor at the Norwegian Royal Theatre for three years. But after a while I got bored doing the same play every night, so then I wanted to become a doctor, like my father, my grandfather, and my great-grandfather. When I was 14 I went to America to live with some relatives, and at age 17 I realized I wasn’t so interested in all the courses and the classes that were necessary to qualify in medicine. So it was then I realized that what I really wanted to do was fashion.

Posters
I like posters very much; of art, music, movies. They are more accessible than art. My favorite at the moment is a music poster of Grace Jones. I also have a lot of paintings, usually figurative and involving color. I bought this little Yayoi Kusama painting at an auction in L.A. recently. I like the obsessiveness of her art, because she puts polka dots on everything. Her style is very recognizable.

Sketching
My favorite place to sketch is in bed on Saturday mornings. There’s a big stack of white paper by the bed. One of the best things about fashion is sketching. People think, ‘Oh it’s so great because you go to fantastic parties, you meet fabulous people’, but what I really love is the sketching. When you can sketch freestyle with no time limitations, you can just let your mind go.

Peter Dundas and Anja Rubik

"I am inspired by the body, the physical form, more than anything else. I obsess about enhancing a different part of the body every season. "

Exercise
I work out for relaxing purposes. I try to go to the gym at least three times a week. I also kite surf and scuba dive. The Maldives and Egypt are both fantastic for diving. I kite surf in Greece, where I’m building a little house on an island that is windy and particularly good for kite surfing. I played ice hockey throughout my childhood and at high school.

Fashion books
Any time I see a book on fashion, I buy it. I must have at least 100. If the house was burning down, it would be my priority to get them out. My favorites are books on Yves Saint Laurent and Halston. They are my great heroes.

Inspiration
I am inspired by the body, the physical form, more than anything else. I obsess about enhancing a different part of the body every season. For this season I’m still working that out. For last winter, it seems very banal but it was the first time I focused on the neckline. I also love the back, the waist, and the side of the thigh.

Taxidermy
I collect stuffed animals. It’s not very politically correct. I have a few really beautiful deer heads, a whole deer as well, quite a few different birds, several boars’ heads. I have insects, too, and lots of butterflies. My sister has some taxidermy in her house. Her children have a bear and a panther in their bedroom.

Music
My taste in music is really varied. I like everything from Lady Gaga to Joni Mitchell. “Both Sides Now” is one of my favorite songs. There are five versions of that song. At home I listen to classical music and jazz but at work I usually listen to something with more energy. One of the responsibilities of the interns is to bring in new music that we can listen to.

Dog
My dog was given to me by a partner nine years ago. He’s called Hannibal, a chocolate labrador. He lives in Paris with a friend and I miss him when I’m in Florence. It’s not easy leaving him behind but the planes that go between Paris and Florence are too small for pet transport. He has been to Florence a couple of times by train but we’ve had problems getting him back, because on Italian trains they don’t tolerate animals like the French do.

Sweet tooth
I have a sweet tooth and I love chocolate. I eat mainly dark chocolate because I’ve heard it’s better for me. I loved Côte d’Or but I’ve changed over to Lindt now. And I love ice cream, but I try not to eat it every day. It’s hard living in Italy with an ice cream obsession, especially in Florence. One of my favorite flavors is liquorice, but it’s very hard to find.

Photos: Courtesy of GETTY IMAGES

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