Paris is a glorious place. Paris isn’t a panacea to remedy a collection low on newness. Proenza Schouler’s Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough are extremely talented, highly skilled designers with a point of view and a sense of daring. They’re the ones who set New York youthquake in motion more than a decade ago. Now, like countless others across the industry, they’re facing essential fork-in-the-road questions, including how to continue to develop their business and, as reported in WWD last week, whether to reembrace New York as part of a small collective of cool-reputation designers who would show on a December-to-June schedule.
The above may have been points of distraction that played into the disappointing fall ready-to-wear collection McCollough and Hernandez showed on Monday. Or maybe not. After three compelling outings that began with their remarkable spring 2017 collection, this may maybe a mere creative breather. Not every serve is an ace. Backstage postshow, McCollough spoke “a new type of eclecticism,” and Hernandez, “A little bit of this, a little bit of that. A little bit of West Coast, a little bit of East, a little bit of New York showing in Paris,” he said. “The whole thing is just a global community these days, and we wanted something that felt that, with bits and pieces from all over the world, you get this big mash-up.”
Mash-up, indeed. But one less of “we are the world” immediacy than a compilation of greatest hits — the commercial version. Whatever globe-trotting the designers embarked upon, they adhered firmly to their own beaten paths — no discoveries or wading into danger-zone experimentation. In fairness, everyone is viewed on a curve. The Proenza guys are big-picture risk-takers, and their revisits are more interesting than some designers’ freshest ideas. The best of it here: amazing coats in rich, sturdy textures — gorgeous. Otherwise, the lineup swung toward the artisanal side of their signatures — handicrafts including macramé, patchwork, fringing (elements they played down for their Paris debut last season); knitwear motifs with nonspecific tribal resonance; cutouts that read less rank-and-file seductress than cool urban warrior. Or traces of her. Here’s to her return to full-on power mode next season, whether in Paris or New York.