nyfw: proenza schouler
(images via ny mag)
although i know the critics are all about proenza schouler—and boy are they this season about; i don’t think i’ve seen many of them so verbose in quite some time—i’m going to say that i’ve personally run rather hot and cold on them (see f/w 2010, s/s 2011, pre-fall 2011, s/s 2012). their work rather reminds me of an american balenciaga, in the way that the designers so regularly try to reinvent the aesthetics each season, pushing us to the boundaries of what we might find ugly (and actually convincing the fashionies to wear it), and keeping certain motifs of forward-thinking, as seen through the eye of the past. a touch of tribalism mixed with high-tech, if you will. and though the duo’s f/w 2012 range presented at new york fashion week stirred up my thoughts of balenciaga’s f/w 2008 range, interestingly enough, only one mentioned the b-word in their review, and in a passing, dismissive manner. i suppose giving it any credence would spoil all their lusting admiration.
and oh, how they swooned. it took the nyt’s cathy horyn, for example, two reviews to apparently do it justice in her own mind. “(t)he fall shows have needed a good, solid jolt, and Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez did that with a terrific collection that had a number of influences. Backstage, the designers said they were interested in the idea of protection — not just in the sense of covering up. ‘It’s also about escaping,’ Mr. Hernandez said. Most obviously woven leather skirts and boxy jackets suggested protection; the weaves, in combinations of red, cobalt and black, were quite dense, almost like an industrial mat. The skirts were short and worn a bit low on the waist, with a side slit. The textures were impressive — you really weren’t sure if the material was leather or vinyl — but the most striking aspect of the collection, I think, was the proportion,” she gushed in her on the runway blog.
and in her newspaper review she tended to be more descriptive, writing that “(t)he silhouette at Proenza Schouler was more extreme: a boxy jacket in white piqué with an asymmetrical front worn with wide-leg trousers. It was a cool look, hinting of a Japanese influence. The designers…also showed jackets and miniskirts — low, flared, tied on — in woven leather, often combining two or three colors to make a grid. Brocade minidresses further punched up the glossy colors; the opening looks in piqué or leather made the strongest impression. Also inspiring were oversize tops in lacquered orange or blue lace that were partly opened at one side by a zipper and loosely tucked into flippy skirts.”
uk vogue gushed that “(h)ulking jackets with folds and layers enveloped the models, some bringing to mind samurai warriors, while other quilted styles hung lopsided on the models’ shoulders. An Islamic mosaic embroidery came by in an indigo blouse or a silvery dress, and some tops fell just below the waist before ending in a randomly jagged, geometrical hem. Next silky embroidered jackets with Oriental motifs, like brocaded peacocks, were shown with dazzling skirts made of shiny stacked tiles. It was an invigorating, and - for lack of a better word - cool show, that toyed with the concept of dressing up versus dressing down - despite naysayers’ inevitable comparisons to Ghesquière’s work at Balenciaga. Like their building-block skirts, each season McCollough and Hernandez accrue more evidence that they are no flash in the pan mavericks, but a perfectly matched pair seeking to create a singular vision of fresh originality.” (see that second-to-last sentence? i guess that defines me. but i stand by my original statement.)
“black, crimson and chestnut dominated the palette,” explained the washington post. “The leather that’s been everywhere in these seasonal previews for stylists, editors and retailers sometimes had a cracked finish here, or it was woven for a novel effect that showed fine craftsmanship and allowed for lots of color without being too bold for a season that’s been dominated by dark neutrals. There was indeed a lot of leather, turning up as pleated suit trousers, dropped-waist dresses and a cage-style leather-lace coat. Other jackets had asymmetrical leather ties on the shoulder, which were ladylike but also next generation. Many of the styles got extra edge from exposed, chunky zippers. Beautiful brocade fabrics provided an elegant contrast in the final group of cocktail dresses that had additional embroidery of birds as decoration.”
meanwhile, the la times yelped that “(w)hen it comes to fashion innovation [the designers] never disappoint. Their collection, with its outsized proportions and unique fabrications, was a thrill ride. They explored the idea of protection with tough-looking, oversize jackets in white cotton pique, black leather or quilted nylon. Fencing, karate, judo and other fight sports inspired the silhouettes and the padded details, while handicrafts from Bhutan (where the designers recently traveled) inspired the colorful basket-weave leather jackets…It was a strong, confident statement from the designers. How many of the runway pieces actually get produced and end up in stores will be interesting to see. (A separate, more basic showroom collection is also available.) But the influence, especially of the oversize silhouette, should reverberate for seasons to come. Which is why, in New York, Proenza Schouler is always one to watch.”
and us vogue, ever ones to rhapsodize, did more of the same with their closing thoughts: “Leather was blistered and perforated to suggest depth, and brocades (in an Asian screen palette of duck-egg blue and rust orange) woven with honeycomb motifs. For evening, the detailing became even more elaborate—fabric figured with the landscapes and chrysanthemum blooms of Japanese obi sashes for short dresses with asymmetric flounces at the hem, and silk-embroidered birds (peacocks, Lady Amherst pheasants, fighting cocks) decorating the front of the chicest baseball jackets, and a finale shift with something of the casual slouch of a pair of dungarees. It is surely the mark of singular (make that double-trouble) talent to take such traditional—even storied—elements of costume and national dress, graft it onto iconic everyday wardrobe pieces, and produce a collection as powerfully modern and seductive as this one. Bravi.”
“The designers opened with a series of boxy collared shirts that snapped closed at one shoulder and loose-fitting pleated trousers,” said style. “Leather was a major element, and the way the designers worked it—by weaving thin strips of navy, black, and white, say, into a tiny grid for a side-zip jacket—was astounding. The handwork was equally impressive on a pair of quilted-satin varsity jackets embroidered with pheasants on the chest; ditto for the woven paillette skirts with which they were paired. Jack and Lazaro also endorsed brocade, another NYC undercurrent, for long-sleeve dresses that, with their complex construction, looked like jackets and flippy miniskirts. The remarkable thing about the show was its evolution. Those scaled-up jackets and trousers at the beginning will be challenging to retailers. But by the end, the quilted-satin cocktail dresses with the bird embellishments (a callback to Hernandez and McCollough’s breakthrough Spring 2010 collection) had the crowd raving. Their confidence is persuasive, and so is their skill.”
finally, wwd struck out in much the same vein: “Big boxy jackets, shirtdresses and skirts were fashioned from flat, precise layers that folded across the body with uneven hems and workwear details, such as patch pockets and diagonal zippers; extra-wide-leg pants sat low on the hips. It made for a powerful sportswear statement (it went on to include biker leathers) — with the distinct beat of the audacious urban warrior. It also spoke to the power of the Celine phenomenon, but not in a literal way. As fantastic as the separates were for their construction and impact, they were challenging as well, those voluminous proportions not for the faint of heart…Once the extreme oversize moment passed, the designers offered more manageable shapes, including suit jackets and stiff wrap skirts made from intricately woven leather in red, black and gold that approximated tweed, and drapy lacquered lace tops in robin’s egg blue and black that tied at the neck and fell open in the back. Seeing clothes so polished and expensive-looking still convey a street attitude is what made it so fabulous.”
(watch the collection video here)