The key to longevity in fashion may just be equal parts consistency and adaptability.
Twenty years after their official debut at New York Fashion Week, Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez switched things up with their collection on Saturday to set a course for the next two decades and beyond.
Rather than focusing on a travel narrative or artist inspiration, or even designing total looks, they zeroed in on essential wardrobe separates, which has been key to their company’s recent revenue uptick, as their design approach has evolved from esoteric to more relatable.
“The last couple seasons, especially pre-collections, our focus has been on who is our woman,” Hernandez said during a preview. “Before, we were more interested in a concept, theme or idea, going to Hawaii and India…we’d go off on a creative tangent. And the woman wasn’t so much a part of it, it was more whatever grasped our attention, we’d do that.
“I also think the time has changed in the broader fashion thinking. Back to the 2000s, 2010s, a lot of designers, you didn’t know from season to season what to expect,” said McCollough. “Now people want to see more consistency and it’s really about the repetition to really drill into people’s heads that this is what the brand is about, this is what they stand for.”
Cultivating community is also important.
So the designers leaned into the women who have supported and inspired them all these years, assembling a wall in their studio full of photos of everyone from their longtime stylist Camilla Nickerson to the singer Sade.
They also tapped some of those women for the show, asking novelist Ottessa Moshfegh to write a day’s worth of fictional journal entries of inner monologue, Chloë Sevigny to read and record them and walk the runway, and experimental musician Arca to arrange a composition.
The journal entries tracked a day’s worth of mundane and more profound thoughts (gallery parties, kid stuff, the cloak of anonymity in the city), and on the runway were the clothes that could carry one through all of it, from assertive tailoring to metallic crushed silk evening dresses, to sponge-y knit elevated hoodies and leather pants.
Tailoring has become an important part of the Proenza Schouler business, and it was really strong. Jackets were oversized, sculpted at the waist, or paneled to create movement, with added details like a zipper open down the back to reveal the shirt underneath, or multi lapels.
After years of sweatpants at home, pants are taking shape again, and the high-rise, carrot-shaped pants here were also shaped by interior corseting. Knits came asymmetrically cut to twist to the body and leather pieces, like wrap skirts and a cropped jacket with a single shearling lapel that flops open, looked rich and timeless.
Continuing to push forward their seasons’ old signature tie-dyes, they commissioned artisans to ice dye velvet shirtdresses, and they simplified their 3D knits from a few seasons ago, on easy pull-on bandeau dresses that fused fabric with a knit band top.
Long leather bandeau dresses were also chic and easy, as were cozy knitted sequined sweaters, slashed dresses and skirts, in navy, ivory or citrine, with matching legging boots. The designers revisited a another favorite, the peeling away technique, showing slash pleat dresses with peel-away bodices, and fringed crochet pom-pom details hidden in the linings.
On the accessories front, they came back to the unstructured shape of their bestselling PS1 to give it a more contemporary silhouette, and turned out some great-looking flat boots.
On the way out of the show, people were already talking about pieces they wanted to own, proving that no good idea is ever wasted.