By and  on June 19, 2009

FLORENCE — For their first show outside the U.S., Proenza Schouler’s Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez said “basta” to runways and traditional formats. Instead, the duo asked three contemporary artists to interpret their pre-spring collection in each one’s medium, and presented the work in a raucous, avant-garde bash.

“Now that pre-collections are becoming so important, it’s nice to be able to explore other avenues by which to show it,” said Hernandez. “Especially since it’s inherently a more commercial collection, there’s room to balance that with something more showy.”

The designers faced the press the morning of the exhibition, held Thursday night at the Medician enclave Villa La Petraia, on the hills over Florence. Following the likes of Diane von Furstenberg and Giambattista Valli as featured guests of the Pitti W fair, Hernandez and McCollough flew in from New York on the heels of winning the Council of Fashion Designers of America Accessory Designer of the Year Award, their third CFDA award in seven years.

“It’s all a blur,” said McCollough, recalling their whirlwind celebrations into the night on Monday and flight to Europe the following day.

For the Pitti W event, in collaboration with Art Production Fund, the designers turned to their “favorite artists” — Kalup Linzy, Haim Steinbach and Kembra Pfahler. Guests entered the 16th-century villa to encounter Steinbach’s installation of Proenza Schouler pre-spring accessories arranged on a white rug with dog toys, plastic onions and a metal bed frame.

Outside, Linzy presented two music videos featuring Chloë Sevigny and model Liya Kebede as uptown ladies in skirt suits, and himself. In addition, Linzy framed and displayed Renaissance-inspired photos of Kebede wearing a number of ladylike outfits from the pre-spring collection featuring draping, neck treatments and feminine prints.

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