Wow. The word was audible in the air, thick with genuinely fizzy feelings of fashion enthusiasm and awe as guests poured out of Proenza Schouler’s phenomenal spring show. They had just witnessed something special.
“No spectacle. No fireworks. We just wanted to show the power of craft and clothes-making,” said Lazaro Hernandez before the show. Wrong. The clothes were the fireworks.
Designers are constantly striving to redefine modernity, femininity and confidence. It’s their job, not an easy one, and Hernandez and Jack McCollough pulled off a rare expression of all of those concepts and desires for spring. Done in a potent palette of black, white, red and a single green dress, the collection’s trims included pom-poms, black ribbons, structural ruffles and off-shoulder cuts that exuded hot-blooded romance. One could be forgiven for inferring a Spanish vibe, though McCollough and Hernandez brushed it off. “Well, I’m Latin,” Hernandez said. “But no, it’s not Spanish at all. We looked at everything.”
However they chose to define it, the collection was full of intensely worked on pieces that flaunted new, impressive ways of embellishment and intricate constructions designed to show the body sensually yet discreetly. One of the most compelling decorative elements was very simple — undone grosgrain ribbons shown on black against white and vice versa. They came emphatically cinched across the collarbone of a white jacquard vest, and around the collar and cutout waistline of jacquard dresses with an eyelet effect and smaller looser tie details on the skirts. The ribbons laced up the open backs of dresses that seemed to fall off the shoulders, and formed a delicate harness on the front of a black scarf dress that looked like two pieces. Slinky knit dresses in tiered, tipped ruffles and mesh hugged the body, showcasing its womanly shape and erogenous zones — the shoulder, hip and lower back — with cutouts that were bare and sexy but the opposite of vulgar.
Myriad examples of inventive decoration went on to include two exquisite dresses with overlays of feather-link mesh, painstakingly assembled one quill and jewel at a time, and the finale of fil coupe dresses embroidered with sleek silver and black balls that were strategically, sparingly placed. The attitude was striking nonchalance but nothing was random. The synergy between the modern romance of the clothes and the colorful Calderesque earrings were perfectly choreographed for a collective multiplier effect. These were killer clothes.