Learning Curve

For the last few years, designers have been channeling the old hop-scotching days, making girlish pinafores and jumpers the urban dress of choice.
Enter Peter Hildalgo, whose obsession with the hourglass offers a beautiful and mature return to the classic feminine silhouette. The Dominican Republic native, who toiled as the design director for Spanish avant-guardian Miquel Adrover, is now quietly accumulating kudos for his own line, which quips in stitches, that real women do have curves.
"He's a very good friend, but we are very different. I like to show the body, but he likes to hide it," says Hidalgo of his and Adrover's opposing aesthetics.
And Hidalgo's penchant for illuminating the va-va-voom figure was never more evident than at the unveiling of his third solo collection for fall '07. Showcasing a considerably more serious line of body-hugging dresses, coats, and suits, the designer expanded on his first two seasons that consisted of only dresses.
"It's the third collection, so I wasn't so safe. I wanted to take a little risk and add coats, pants, and jackets," says the designer from his Astoria, Queens, studio.
Moving away from the flirtier and more colorful tone of his summer '07 collection, Hidalgo topped a high neck of a sage-green wool fitted dress with fur and added drama to a black dress with a plunging off-the-shoulder neckline. Despite the addition of more pieces and the darkening palette, both seasons share a common thread—they all carry the perfect shape of a studio dressmaker's form. With structured waists and hips, the clothing evokes a seemingly more glamorous time when a dame's allure rested in her perfectly poised appearance.
"I was influenced by the old-fashioned classy women who do their hair and make up so perfect," says Hidalgo of his curve-conscious muse.
And while he works with velvets, silks, wool, and cashmeres juxtaposed with shiny and matte fabrics, Hidalgo reveals his tailoring chops by reworking men's pieces into feminine masterpieces.
"I see a fabric that I like and rework it," says Hidalgo gushing about a pair of pleated trousers that became a strapless dress. But don't expect him to turn a gown into menswear anytime soon. "For now I want to focus on women. I need to be constant," adds Hidalgo.
Hidalgo is available in New York at Linda Dresner, 484 Park Avenue, 212-308-3177, and in Chicago at Blake, 2448 N. Lincoln Avenue, 773-477-3364. For more information, go to www.peterhidalgo.com.
Designer Peter Hidalgo is bringing sexy back.

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