A Return to their Source, with a Pry of Sensuality
By Long Nguyen
“Designing this collection is interesting as when we are still living in a cocoon world. But, it feels like things are opening back up, and this collection delivers in September, so it’s kind of one foot in one world and one foot in another,” said Jack McCollough via Zoom from upstate New York. McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez explained the foundation for the highly focused and sharp fall clothes he and Lazaro Hernandez showed for their Proenza Schouler label in a video format shot recently at the Parrish Art Museum Water Mill in the Hamptons.
“We still have to the notion of clothes as warmth and covering and cozy and good against the skin. And we are starting to explore what the world can be like soon, so there is a bit of sexiness, a bit of skin peeking out from underneath, something a bit more sensual. All the jackets have belts in the back that can pull back the front of the big wrap skirts that have slits on the sides – all as a part to reveal a bit of the body underneath,” Hernandez explained the cutaway motif that permeates throughout the collections.
As Hernandez showed the different looks, flashes of skin are seen with all the fitted jackets and coats that can pull back to reveal the navel or in a one-piece mustard knitwear sheath dress with an attached wrapped skirt button on the hips in the front. The legs’ skin is prominent in a long black skirt slit center both from the front and back paired with a black wool tailored jacket.
This season, the collection does not require high art injection as they have done in the past, like the Fall 2015 show at the empty uptown Whitney was awaiting the conversion into the Met Breuer. Then, the clothes referenced abstract expressionist painter Helen Frankenthaler and minimalist sculptor Robert Morris – the clarity of their wardrobe proposals shine through.
“We wanted to have these long and lean silhouettes but we don’t want to make them feel monastic in any way,” McCollough said.
More importantly, without the supporting elements of art, the Proenza Schouler signature looks begin to emerge into plain sight, no longer hidden behind any justifications. These fall offerings are not the basic garments but are the fashion clothes straight from the show into consumers’ bodies.
Often, creative clothes at shows are not what will be in stores, then months later, a reinterpretation of the runway looks but would hang on the stores’ actual shelves in a commercial-friendly manner. This collection isn’t the case here. Customers can pre-order any of these looks at the brand’s website.
That’s what makes these fall clothes feel fresh and unencumbered. They are not overly designed, but the design elements are well thought out and carefully planned in each piece.
For example, a rusty orange tee-shirt cut with the circular technique with a fringed cape sleeve is paired with a long dark burgundy wine chiffon skirt with beadings at the bottom light fabric weight. A silk colorful strappy dress has a black and white crochet bra top underneath as support – fashion and practicality on one outfit. A black wool strapless dress has the shape of men’s dress pants but with a side cut out that serves as the bottom half of the long dress, imbuing the dress with a bit of structure and less fluidity – or as Hernandez said “the dress has an attitude of a men’s trouser but in an evening dress.”
Here is the tailored jacket fitted on top then slightly flared from the rib cage down to the hips in a reverse shape of a v-neckline in white or black technical wool paired with flare pants or long skirt with the side high slit or the spread lapel coat now as a double-layered coat in light grey or mustard wool. The long flowing dresses with dropped shoulder shirt sleeves in a red or a brown, yellow nature motif print. The light camel leather long shirt sleeve dress with a black leather front closure is another of Proenza Schouler’s signature look over the years, now refined for this fall.
“These are easy to wear clothes,” Hernandez emphasized as both he and McCollough spoke a great deal on how easy customers can wear the clothes in real life and how that affects the way they cut the patterns in their designs. “They are great on with shearling slippers or leather socks and strappy heels.”
“Knitwear is also a big part of the collection – the charcoal cable knits, the cardigan jacket, the crochet knit, and the cashmere sweaters,” McCollough said of the long yellow cashmere sleeveless column dress.
The collection balances soft chiffon and hard wool, straight and crafts, and brings their firm signatures to a new generation.