In last week's Sold Out column, regarding the Art Institute's Fit 2 Print fashion show: "Most improved honors go to Tony Dimitri Peniche, who broke out of the screenprinted T-shirt and bullet-belt mold and impressed with a menswear collection that retained its rocker feel without skimping content." He responded with a comment:
Thank you so much for acknowledging my growth as a designer. Most people may not have realized this, but after I went to China and showed my PFW 2009 collection on the runway during China's spring fashion week my entire life and perception of the fashion world changed! So I stayed hidden from the Portland fashion scene for ALL of 2010 and have been working with my new business partners to re-brand, start over, and this time really do it right. Being in Portland's fashion public eye from day 1 in '08, may not have been the best idea because everyone had to watch me go through "designer growing pains", but it really has given me an edge in business meetings, forced me to learn and grow quickly, made me tolerable to criticism. Thank you for not giving up on me and I promise NOW is only the beginning. I truly hope to make you all proud and as my line is about to go international, I want to make sure everyone knows where it all comes from and bring the jobs back to Portland.
A little background: The last time I encountered his work was in 2009, when I wrote, "Tony Dimitri hasn't thrilled me in the past, and has always struck me as having an LA/Ed Hardy vibe." More troubling, though, was that I didn't see a lot of actual garment construction from him, and he was being presented to the world under the Portland Fashion Week banner while designers of far greater demonstrated vision and ability were absent—but that was a poor programming choice more than his fault. I'll believe this "going international" business when I see it, but I'm thrilled at the results of his transformation. Even my favored runway photographer, Minh Tran (all the photos in this post are his), who has been to almost as many Portland fashion shows as I have, was compelled to name Peniche's F2P presentation "the best." We're still in the same guyliner country he's always favored, but Peniche has expounded on the theme, self-described as "post-apocalyptic," with Jean Paul Gaultier-reminiscent hoods and armor in leather, fur, and wool in a collection titled "Beautiful Rebellion":
Welcome back, Tony. Keep stepping it up.