Peter Davis is the modern man about town in New York. He is the original Carrie Bradshaw, with a list of credentials running a mile long. One of the first things you notice about Davis, is his gregarious upbeat energy. He makes eye contact when speaking to people, and is just so likable. The Bennington grad studied painting in college, and soon after he started writing for Vogue.
Although he looks back on his transition into the writing world as “accidental,” he is one of the most recognizable sources in the fashion scene. Davis started as an intern at Paper Magazine, where he worked his way up to become the Editor-At-Large. He then created Scene Magazine and 57 Newspaper as the Editor-In-Chief. On Saturday, April 14, I got to meet up with Davis, as he co-hosted the Purist pop up event in Los Angeles. We touched on all things from his favorite guilty pleasures to the impact of the fashion industry in the young digital world.
Ellie Crabbe: Starting off, what are you doing here today?
Peter Davis: I am co-hosting the Purist pop-up with my childhood friend, Cristina Greeven Cuomo. It’s her magazine about wellness and living healthy.
EC: You obviously are very fashionable with a strong sense of style. Who or what inspires or influences you?
PD: I think style-wise, my biggest influence is probably living in New York and also living in LA, who I see on the street or out and about. Not really so much magazines, but who you walk by or see at a restaurant. I love street style from all over the world. But, I am lucky I live in New York, I live in Williamsburg [Brooklyn], and the best styles are happening there.
EC: What was your first major jump into the editorial world?
PD: I was an intern at Paper Magazine when I was in high school and I literally was a kid who would skateboard down into the office. I didn’t know how to type or do anything like that, considering I went to college for painting. I never wanted to be a writer or an editor but I loved Paper. They became like my family and then right when I graduated they gave me my own column! A few months later I wrote for Vanity Fair, Vogue and then met Anna Wintour.
EC: Did Paper mold you into the person you are right now?
PD: Definitely, I credit them a lot. They have molded a lot of people, its really been a springboard into other things. But, it was accidental, I just thought it seemed like a cool place to work.
EC: One of your most important and informative pieces, Manorexia, one of my favorites, what propelled you to write that?
PD: I became addicted to exercise, and I’m already a lean athletic person. I felt like I was verging manorexia and it’s really an under-reported illness. And so, people think anorexia and they think female and so manorexic became the coin term for men who have eating disorders. For me it wasn’t really so much eating, I’ve always been a healthy eater. I was just over exercising. I became addicted to the gym. A lot of jockeys become manorexic, a lot of wrestlers where you have to meet weight. When I interviewed Dennis Quaid, he said he has struggled with manorexia. That was the first person I had ever met who openly talked about it. He actually brought it up, I didn’t even know about it.
EC: We saw from your Instagram that you were present at the March For Our Lives. That matter is very significant to teenagers and our lives. How was that experience for you?
PD: It was amazing, I wish I had gone to Washington D.C. I marched a lot for marriage equality, I volunteered for Obama, so I am definitely politically active. To me this is the most important issue facing the country right now. Way beyond all of Trump’s bad behavior, are gun laws. It’s ridiculous! If you look at the graph, (it’s like up here), the U.S. in terms of random gun violence, then it plummets, no one has the problem we have. I won’t shut up till we have change!
EC: What do you think the fashion industry can do to help keep the conversation rolling?
PD: I think the fashion industry is a voice. I think they should make T-shirts [etc], especially people like Marc Jacobs who have made T-shirts to be politically active in the past. I think that, unfortunately, it takes one big fashion name to do something and then everyone follows.
EC: So switching gears, what do you find attractive in an upcoming artist?
PD: In terms of art, I collect a lot of art and love that. I love the internet. I’ve always loved being online, on Instagram, and everything because I like information. I’ve discovered photographers I’ve worked with on Facebook and Instagram. So really that’s my discoveries. My talent pool comes from online, and just looking. I think that’s where everything is moving. I read everything on my phone. I don’t read traditional magazines as much anymore. I’ll read the LA Times, NY Times on my phone. Sometimes my laptop, but really my phone when I’m on the go.
EC: What is something you might tell your younger self, looking back on everything you’ve accomplished in your life?
PD: Take every opportunity offered. I was offered to launch Fashionista.com, the website. It was before fashion websites were really important with a voice, and I said ‘no’… because I was a print person and I didn’t have the foresight to see what it could become. I regret not taking that opportunity to have been able to launch a digital site and platform from beginning to end.
EC: Was that when the internet was more up and coming?
PD: Yeah, I mean there were websites, but not really in the fashion world. The fashion world was still very Vogue and print!
EC: What are your most significant accomplishments, in your opinion?
PD: Launching my own [print] magazine, which was really hard to do, called Scene. I did that from nothing when print was dying. And then I’m also proud of interviews I’ve done! I interviewed David Hockney for C Magazine and I interviewed Kelly Slater for Paper. I’m proud of those accomplishments but more so I feel like I won the lottery, because who wouldn’t want to interview these people! And then I think, just having a good family and friends is an accomplishment! I am very close with my brother, my sister, and my friends!
EC: We saw on your Instagram, you are addicted to cotton candy. Where can one find the best cotton candy?
PD: Tokyo! They do crazy cotton candy where they do different colors in a pyramid shape with stuff on it. I’ve been a few times to Tokyo. That said, I’ll get it wherever I see it! So if there is a carnival, I’ll pull over on the side of the road and buy cotton candy. Sometimes I’ll get it at Rite Aid when they have it in the package, but I like it when they swirl it and do the whole process!
EC: Also, you love street art! Where can you find the best and most unique street art?
PD: Right now it’s in Brooklyn. I live in Williamsburg and its disappearing because its gentrifying, but Bushwick and then LA! The only problem about street are in LA for me, is I like to photograph it all for Instagram stories. I’m usually in a car, so my friends get annoyed because I’m hanging out the window trying to get the shot!
EC: Anything for the shot!
PD: Yes! Anything for the shot! Actually, after I met with David Hockney I walked, which no one walks in LA, for 15 blocks just to be able to capture street art! And I think the art scene has moved to LA! Both street art and emerging artists. New York is about commerce and LA is about creativity, in the art world.
EC: Ending on a funny note, it is prom season for a lot of us high school students! Can you give a word of advice to the boys about anything at all!
PD: Ask politely, be a gentleman. Don’t do it by text or email, ask in person, be well mannered. Dress down, it’s really, like a wedding, and it’s all about the dress. Just go black tie, don’t go anything weird [laughs]. The same thing goes with something like the Oscars. When I see a man dressed weird, it puzzles me.