Something has shifted at Proenza Schouler. The last few seasons from Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough weren’t their best, lets be honest – they were plain and mild, and seemed to drown in the New York fashion week crowd. But their autumn-winter 2020 collection feels different. Delicate silhouettes got replaced by sharper cuts, and instead of draped forms we’ve got something much more geometric and bold. Also, the lenghts are shorter, the mood isn’t slouchy. The first look was a little black dress slipping off the shoulder, worn with ruched leather boots. Later looks followed the same pattern of „undone” style: jackets and knits peeled off of one shoulder, stretch leather dresses were cut with asymmetrical necklines, and a cold shoulder sweater exposed both clavicles. The closing looks were all about comforting volume. The designers’ starting point was a blanket. The duo gave their stylist Camilla Nickerson one for Christmas which she started wearing as a scarf, and inspiration was born. “She’s blanketed in a protective layer of strength and confidence,” Hernandez said backstage. McCollough put it another way: “It’s about finding beauty in a world that’s unraveling.”
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
While a less sophisticated collection from Eckhaus Latta feels right once in a while, Proenza Schouler’s new season offering again misses something that used to make the label so in-demand. Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough are very good at tailoring, and even better at cutting a fluid-y, silk dress (the printed one worn by Adut Akech is the biggest highlight of the collection). But in the sea of great blazers and dresses we’ve seen last season and again this season in New York, this doesn’t make Proenza stand out. It seems to me that the Proenza Schouler identity is gradually getting blurrier and less distinctive. Not that the spring-summer 2020 collection is bad: it has lots of classics, like an over-sized coat or an XXL shoulder bag. However, those clothes don’t spark any feelings in me. Where’s the bolder, art-ier Proenza Schouler? Hope it will come back soon.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
Proenza Schouler’s autumn-winter 2019 is one of those collection that need a second look. At first I thought that Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough’s line-up felt repetitive. But then, I realised how strong this collection is. It’s all about construction, whether we’re speaking of a dress’ hem or a coat’s lapel. Tailoring was definitely the best part, as it looked ready for the big, urban New York life. Just look at the wool, over-sized suits! Up to now it’s the only power dressing that matters this NYFW. The slouchy, black knits with scarves attached to collars softened the mannish proportions. Let’s move on to outerwear. Veronika Kunz looked just fire in a garment that looked like a denim vest patched over a classical trench coat. I also adored the deconstructed leather coat on Julia Nobis, inspired by Sol LeWitt’s incomplete cubes. It’s the second season since Proenza Schouler came back home from Paris, and it’s clear where the New York boys feel best…
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
For many brands, a pre-collection isn’t just the season with the longest shelf life. It’s also the right moment to remind its classics; brand codes; signature pieces – whatever you call it. Proenza Schouler‘s Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez are aware of that – and they aren’t afraid to repeat themselves, in a healthy, balanced way. Tie-dye print is the label’s long-time friend, and with its major success as a turtleneck last winter, the PS boys brought it back in new colour combinations. Sensual slip-dresses with feminine detailing were especially present in Proenza Schouler’s first collections, more or less a decade ago. Now they are back, styled with big pants and masculine blazers. Spring-summer 2019’s XXL-bag is staying for a longer, too, just as washed denim. Although we’ve seen all that, let’s admit this: the collection looks good. Even very good.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough are the boys, who for years defined the contemporary chic of New York’s fashion scene. Hearing about their unexpected departure to Paris last season was quite a surprise. Everybody asked: what will New York fashion week be like without Proenza Schouler? Well, one thing’s sure – the Big Apple undoubtedly sobs that it didn’t witness one of the couples’ strongest and most beautiful collections.
But why Paris? And why so early for spring-summer 2018, while it will be presented by other labels in September? First, the brand decided to expand its recognition internationally, as Paris, not New York, is the place where all eyes look at. Second, the designers decided to dissolve the pre- and main-collection into one, consistent line-up, leaving more space (and time) for their intimate, creative process. Vetements done it, with success; Burberry has a similar business model; Rodarte, which presented its collection the same day in the French capital, takes the same risk this season.
But lets talk about the clothes, which in the end are the most important. As I’ve mentioned earlier, that was a truly impressive collection. Form low skirts and ready-for-everything blazers to statuesque ruffled dresses and stark red florals, Lazaro and Jack searched for a balance between arty edginess and comfortable elegance. Wait, we’re in Paris, just on time for haute couture shows – this explains the last looks, pimped up by the local petites mains. Looking like moving fluffy clouds from a distance, those were intricately inserted feathers on Sasha Pivovarova’s art gallery owner jacket or Mariacarla Boscono’s show-stopping evening dress à la Black Swan. Actually, each look is worth a paragraph. Also, please take a look at the low-heeled shoes with pointy-toes, kept in simple black or embellished with colourful beads. An instant need.
I think that a warm ‘bienvenue’ is the right term to greet Proenza Schouler at their new, European home!
Collage by Edward Kanarecki (backdrop: combination of different installations and artworks by Kate MccGwire).
Proenza Schouler‘s spring-summer 2017 collection is my favourite collection so far – and I’m quite sure that it will stay up high in my rank for this season. Like Altuzarra, Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez looked forward to colour, which used to be substituted with calm neutrals in their last few collections. Bold, graphic patterns in red, yellow, orange and blue gave the bar-jackets and pleated skirts a youthful, pop vibrancy. The styling was care-free in its fun spontaneity – take the intarsia fur coat, tied with a sweatshirt over the waist. Such an eye-catchy contrast between a luxurious investment piece, and a streetwear must-have. But the sweatshirts, and the more street-wise part of the collection wasn’t banal at all. Boxy, voluminous t-shirts were layered over shirts, while Greek sanctuary prints or a snapshot of closed fist (its Jack’s) contributed to the idea of a mixed, “collage-like” chaos. Fabrics and rare textiles were “sparsed” around the pieces like in a collage, too. For their multi-coloured, knitted dresses, the designers reached a Parisian atelier were feathers are weaved like yarn. Knitwear used in the collection came from Bolivia, and in overall, over ten countries were involved in the making of this spectacular line-up of intriguing garments. As the designers said, they didn’t “travel as much as the collection itself“. That’s the beauty behind Proenza’s spring-summer 2017.
Collage by me (as usual), feauturing Kasia Korzeniecka’s water-painting.
Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez of Proenza Schouler are approaching a new field of femininity. Their SS16 was like a quick vacation to South America – the heat of flamenco was unbearable, but appealing. The textiles were more light, which is a contrast to their last-season heavy wools and metal detailing; the attitude changed towards the Proenza woman, who is much more sensual and on-going. Exposed-shoulder-dresses and Cuban heeled pumps are the ultimate hits from the collection – just like the 70’s inspired, plexi earrings. However, the collection lacked a bit of fantasy, even though the designers had their dresses made by Parisian couturiers. It wasn’t a bad collection, but surely not the best one from Proenza Schouler boys.
Pre-Fall offered them a chance to revisit the hits from Spring, dig further into their back catalog, and begin testing out ideas they’ll put on the runway for next Fall in February. Fringe dresses, tessel skirts, but now knitted, voluminous tops and a slouchy way of wearing. The clothes were in other words really good. But it feels that Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough start to get commercial. In 2015, their 8th store will be opened! So no wonder why they keep consistency. The clothes aren’t so “one-season” as few years ago. And if looking at pre-fall 2015, this is clearly visible, knowing Proenza- those are old hits framed into a new look-book. Whether it’s good or no- pre-falls and resorts are usually about more commercial fashion. Hopefully, Lazaro and Jack won’t change into mass-production corporation for their read-to-wear.
P.s. Forgetting “commercialism”, Proenza Shouler boys made a convincing case for the covered-up proportions with a long cable-knit sweaterdress buttoned up the back over one of those pleated knit skirts. And those fringed heels are major.