For years, Proenza Schouler has been the cool kid on the New York block, known for kitsch and craft that reliably resulted in hip, attitudinal pieces featuring slick hardware, hints of deconstruction, and collaged materials. Lately, however, the brand has accelerated far beyond the industry’s expectations for its output. Instead of kitsch, it’s serving up super innovative, neoteric looks that practically defy description. Take, for instance, the brand’s Fall/Winter 2015 collection, which brought the proverbial house down with an ambitious parade of technically developed designs that launched all manner of trends. In following up what was their best show to date, design duo Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez had two choices: either top their best work ever, or, barring that, return things to a happy statis. Fortunately, for Spring/Summer 2016, Proenza Schouler achieved the former.
For the spring season, McCollough and Hernandez looked to Spain — the Iberian peninsula in particular — for inspiration. There they found lace, flamenco elements, and traditional decorations like pom-poms with which to festoon their flouncy, hyper-modern clothes. The show kicked off with a burst of thumping music, and models took to the runway with an authoritative, on-beat stomp that matched the sizzling, heart-racing looks they wore. In a palate of black, white, and red, McCollough and Hernandez stripped excess away with shoulder-baring cutouts, dropped sleeves to the bicep, or knotted tops to reveal a tiny slice of taut tummy. With extreme precision, they rendered a white column dress into a sharp statement look by adding contrast trim and cutting the sleeves in a bell shape that matched the layered tiers of the skirt.
Several looks took inspiration from flamenco dresses, but reduced them in volume, while others reworked the hanging tab accents that were also shown on last season’s runway. Wide-knit dresses mimicked the mesh trend, and gorgeous sleeveless gowns decorated in a diamond-patterned lattice of feathers transformed models into modern versions of Odette from Swan Lake. By refining and reworking the ideas presented in its Fall/Winter 2015 collection, Proenza Schouler advanced its new techy-cool agenda. Notably, this presentation seemed to pay homage to the Spanish-influenced designs of Cristobal Balenciaga and, now that there is an opening at the storied maison, perhaps McCollough and Hernandez are making a play for the position. If they are, they more than met the requirements for carrying on Balenciaga’s extremely forward-thinking vision.
Photos: Courtesy of Imaxtree