While nearly every single designer is musing on re-emerging and dressing up again as more and more people get vaccinated, the Proenza Schouler boys rather stay realistic. Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough aren’t buying the roaring twenties, at least for the moment. “You want to hold onto some of that ease, some of that comfort, some of that intimacy that you had with the pandemic,” Hernandez told Vogue. “But then you want to introduce things that feel a little bit more nipped, more tucked, something a little bit more tailored.” They’re emphasizing knits in the form of ribbed tanks and pull-on pants that puddle at the ankles, and their high-buttoning jackets are made to be as easy-wearing as cardigans. Silhouettes are grounded by flat shoes, either fuzzy house slippers or thick-soled, heavy-tread boots of the sort that have recently been trending. The nipping and tucking Hernandez talked about was achieved in a couple different ways: a top and pants in oversized proportions were swaddled at the waist and fixed with a gold pin, while tunic-length bouclé tweed tops were slightly peplumed at the hips, creating a New Look-ish line that they kept modern by layering leather shorts and those big boots underneath. The clearest sign of the change to come, once we get past the pandemic, might be a chunky knit sweater and matching skirt combo that stands out not just for its eye-catching shade of marigold but also for the fresh mini-length of its skirt. I kind of wish there was more of that boldness in the designers’ latest offerings. Still, in its leggy, unencumbered attitude it looks like a compelling direction for the duo.
Ella Emhoff’s (Vice President Kamala Harris’s step daughter) modelling debut (she was signed by IMG Models not long after her stylish presence at the Inauguration) was probably the biggest, clickbait moment of this very plain New York Fashion Week. She had her cameo appearance in Proenza Schoulder‘s autumn-winter 2021 look-book and video, and definitely delivered some spotlight to those level-headed, a bit monotonous garments. Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough are the old hands (the brand is celebrating its 20th anniversary… yes, time flies!) on the local fashion week calendar, with many establishment brands showing later (or not all) this season. Maybe not coincidentally, they mentioned the word “balance” to Vogue: balancing the work-from-home moment we’re currently in with the optimism they feel sure is coming; balancing softness with structure, and minimalism with a more crafted aesthetic. The result is a collection that feels of a piece with their recent, consistenly minimalist work. They still favor an earthy palette and they continue to work their repertoire of lean, confident pant suits and fluid midi-dresses, a particularly striking one in chartreuse and brown tie-dye. But where a year ago, jackets and dresses were tugged off shoulders, this season that “attitude,” as they called it, was built into their patterns, be it a spongy knit dress with an askew head hole or a top with a swooping asymmetrical hem. The former snaked around the body, while the latter had a buoyant sculptural volume. Clothes that work harder while also being easier to wear – the new investment pieces, which make sense in COVID times.
My first ever “live” collage, which I’ve created having TikTok on my mind… just playing around and checking out the app everybody’s buzzing about! Search @designandculturebyed, because I might stay there for good! Still, I think I will always feel much more confident on Instagram.
Proenza Schouler boys continue to work with soft minimalism in the era of WFH. But for pre-fall 2021, Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough try to elevate the stay-at-home style. According to McCollough, the line-up “celebrates the joy of dressing up, while injecting a strong sense of ease.” A halter dress in fine gauge crochet with graphic stripes tracing the neckline captures the vibe. Other hands-on touches include the deep lengths of fringe on knit skirts and asymmetrically placed mismatched buttons on closely fitted, unstructured blazers worn with puddling bell-bottom pants. In another look, the designers used a gold chain to gather the hem of a dress to its midriff, looping the fabric through hoops to create a decorative slimming detail at the waist. It’s all good, but I wish most of it didn’t feel like a moodboard filled with Phoebe Philo’s Céline and new Bottega. In a normal year, these maxi, tank-dresses would be destined for summer weddings and other special occasions. Nobody knows if those dates will hold, if the vaccine will be widely available by then or if we’ll still be waiting. That’s a lot of uncertainty to wrestle with for pretty much everybody in the industry, going forward into 2021. Still, dressing up for an attitude boost is never a bad idea, even while staying at home, so why not stay hopeful.
The whole crisis of 2020 appears to work well for some creatives. This sort of reset was really needed. Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough of Proenza Schouler have released their spring-summer 2021 look-book not a while ago, and it was brilliant. Now, as the new season clothes are gradually arriving to stores, the boys dropped their resort 2021 line-up, which is equally great. It seems that the designers took a deep breath, reflected on their work from the last couple of seasons, and returned to Proenza Schouler’s core, but in a contemporary, thoughtful way. The resort collection is very much a product of lockdown time. The designers spent the early months of the pandemic talking business. The fashion industry was essentially at a standstill in that moment and the new normal had them reconsidering the issue of sustainability. “As a brand with a voice it’s our responsibility to address these things,” McCollough said. Over the years, they’ve amassed a huge archive of fabrics and they created parts of this pre-spring offering out of those deadstock materials. “It’s not a patchwork vibe, but it’s fabrics we’ve done before, and it’s been game changing,” said Hernandez. They’re also introducing a core offering with this collection that won’t be subject to markdowns, and hope to expand it to up to 30% of their business. “It’s relevant now, but it’s not going to be irrelevant six months from now,” Hernandez continued. “It’s a black sweater, wool suitings, nylon gabardines. So it’s sustainable also in that regard.” Browsing the lineup, it has a certain earthiness, but it hasn’t lost its cool. The palette is warm, and the smocking details feel crafty, almost homespun even on leather. As with the main collection, there’s an emphasis on easy-wearing knits. But all that is counterbalanced by minimal, ’90s-ish tailoring, which is elegant and chic.
In the absence of a New York Fashion Week show, the Proenza Schouler designers – Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough – made their first-ever book with the photographer Daniel Shea. Shot in August, it pairs expressive model shots with even more evocative images of the city: the skyline at sunset, the Empire State building seen through a tangle of power lines, a super-tall tower on Billionaires’ Row. It’s an ode to their hometown in a year when they’ve spent very little of their time in it. In the early months of the pandemic they were up at their place in the Berkshires. They spent March and April on Zoom business calls trying to figure out how to make it through this unprecedented situation. When they finally turned to their next collection, their normal processes weren’t possible: no research trip, no dips into their archive, no silhouette studies on a model. “All we walked into the studio with was a feeling. We wanted something that felt effortless and warm; we wanted to get rid of the sharp edges. It just had to make you feel good. For us that’s what fashion should be at its most successful. It should make one’s life easier and feel good,” Hernandez said. “A forever quality,” McCollough elaborated, “something that lasts.” There are decorative treatments for both night and day here; allover sequins cover a straight-line shirtdress, and the shoulders of a button-down shirt and waistline of button-fly trousers are graphically dip-dyed. But the big story is really the attitude adjustment; without being boring the clothes feel simpler than what they’ve put on their recent runways. They emphasized easy-to-wear ribbed-knit separates and dresses, and stripped any artifice from their tailoring, which is just slightly oversized and mannish save for the suits’ soft pastel colors. Putting the accent on silhouette, they made a dress with a choker collar, a cut-out asymmetrical neckline, and voluminous sleeves, then cut the drama with puffy slippers. Those flat shoes are a key to the season’s new mood, a timely nod to our more circumscribed lifestyles and the renewed value that women are placing on comfort. It’s looking more and more like we’ll be staying homebound well into 2021. The collection’s knockout dress in stretch jersey with circular cut-outs on the bodice will be similarly comfortable, but the reason that women will really respond to it is because it looks like a guaranteed good time.