Last week Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez celebrated the opening of their first-ever store. On Madison Avenue! For fashion-watchers who've tracked the brand since the designers' 2002 graduation from Parsons, it signified one thing. Well, two things. One, we're old. Two, it's official: The Proenza Schouler boys are grown-ups. Coincidence or not, this collection felt more ambitious than their previous work. The first look out may have been a jean vest, a signifier of downtown cool, but it was a jean vest patchworked from different colors of python.
With the ante sufficiently upped, they moved on to, among other things, sleeveless dresses collaged from squares of exotic skins and leather; oversize, slouching-forward coats in perforated leather bonded to jersey that was laser-cut, then crocheted back together; and Gerhard Richter-inspired jacquards cut into a boxy cropped jacket and an A-line skirt. The most energetic pieces came toward the end. Photoprints are a dime a dozen on the runways, but McCollough and Hernandez found a new way to work them. By cutting them on the bias into strips, then stitching them diagonally across the torso, found images like crowd scenes and kids in a pool looked almost abstract. Pushing their experiments even further, some of those dresses were embroidered with flat colored studs on the bodice and silver grommets at the hem.
Backstage McCollough and Hernandez claimed Tumblr as a point of reference, citing its random associations and the delight-producing effects of happenstance. They may be card-carrying members of the digital generation, but they're also incredibly hard workers. Kudos to them for setting the bar ever higher.