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  • Writer's pictureSavannah Bradley

Staying True to Proenza Schouler

On Saturday, Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez grappled with legacy.

 


There is something admirable about a designer who knows who they are. So much of fashion's War of the Roses — a one-season Creative Director, a PR nightmare, who gets to sit in the front row? — is masquerade. These little battles are the result of mixing creative souls with commerce, which inevitably leads to bruised egos. When you can find a designer who has always stayed true to their desires and apprised of their weaknesses, it is a breath of sweet relief. Proenza Schouler has always been a sweet relief.


For Proenza Schouler SS24, CDs Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez depart from last spring’s dark pageantry — a show opened by moody it girl Chloë Sevigny and narrated by moody novelist Ottessa Moshfegh — and instead choose the thing with feathers (literally). New York Times Fashion Director Vanessa Friedman described the collection in one very apropos word: lightness. Last season’s audacious tailoring and sharp geometry have been replaced by watercolor chiffon and shades of buttercream; Moshfegh’s narration has been replaced by compositions from indie-folk darling Weyes Blood, who also opened the show; and grungier textures, like leather and crushed metallic, have been swapped for angel-thin organza.



And yet while these two ideas seem diametric — how can a brand invert its seasonal identity yet still be true to itself? — the Proenza Schoulerisms are still there, faithfully waiting in the wings. Signature styles are crystallized, here, though not overplayed: the sculpted shoulders of blazers and boatnecks; an accessory (or two) added; and the messy-glossy hair of the downtown girls floating down the runway. Much like the Mirror Palais show about “anxiety,” or the controversial Helmut Lang love letter to New York, the running undercurrent of New York Fashion Week SS24 has been authenticity (though no designer is brave enough to answer: What the fuck does “authenticity” mean, anyway?).


Look too long and you might get transfixed. I was particularly stunned by a cream-colored trench, paired with cushiony denim in the same shade; a white, gossamer almost-wrap-but-not-a-wrap dress that clings to the body, a simulacrum of wetness; two other sheer numbers, ribbed in Alice blue and soft watermelon, gently tugging at the hip bones; and Schouler’s take on the classic LBD, buffeted by recollections of ballet, librarians, and private school uniforms.



Though there were pockmarks: I wasn’t totally sold on the knit-wrap halter dresses, which (despite their beauty) felt out of place. Other missteps included the footwear — flip-flops and wiry sandals, reminiscent of 7th-grade dances — and some of the leather pieces, which looked erroneously bulky and ill-cut. It was easy to wonder, at times, if some of these pulls were meant for FW23 and were simply re-shelved.



This is not to say that the collection felt half-thought. The intention and sensitivity here are clear, if not guppyish. But if this is McCollough and Hernandez’ new era — an exploration of delicacy, a rejection of the bourgeois opulence that earmarked last year’s shows en masse — then that comes with unspooling the Proenza Schouler brand itself. I have no doubt in my mind that McCollough and Hernandez have the bravery to do so — but they’ve only plucked the first thread. 🌀


 

You can view the whole collection here.

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