Once upon a time, not all that long ago, there was one thing you could be sure of at a Proenza Schouler show, and that thing was cool. Now, there are two things: cool and craft. Last season, designers Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez obsessed over Japanese shibori dyeing techniques and the process of making guipure lace. For Fall, inspired by a road trip they took to Santa Fe, where they were hipped to the beauty of Native American blankets, they hit the computer to design their own prints. And if that doesn't sound crafty, wait till you hear what happened next. "Then we exploded them and we pixelated them," McCollough said backstage, pointing out the geometric embroideries of a long-sleeved jacquard sheath and the hand-painted panne velvet of other dresses.
Jack and Lazaro weren't the only designers turned on by textiles and tribes this season (see Thakoon, for one), and yet the kaleidoscopic results look unmistakably theirs. Chalk that up to the slouchy cut of their pants, the undone way the ragged back hem of a black suede camp shirt was shown untucked over a slim pencil skirt, or how a party dress with an asymmetric neckline was layered over a black tee. In a word: cool.
Not everything will be quite as palatable to their fans. We're talking here about the overwrought trio of densely patterned leather and viscose knit sweaters and pants. On the other hand, the glazed silk blanket-stripe cocktail dresses look destined for a red carpet near you. Amid all the clashing prints were a pair of comparatively understated dresses with bias cuts that spiraled up the body like a double helix. In fashion parlance, that's apparently called an "easy sew, tricky pattern." Whatever you call it, the results were impressive.