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Proenza Schouler

Seventh Avenue has embraced Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez as boy wonders ever since their senior thesis project at Parsons: It was so good, so preternaturally polished, that it was bought hook, line, and bustier by Barneys. The gifted-and-talented young team had met in their junior year at the design school. Before finding themselves in fashion, McCollough had made a short-lived stab at glassblowing, and Hernandez had planned to be a doctor. The new best friends (and for the first few years, romantic partners) soon were being seen in the pages of Vogue, and winning over a loyal clientele with their intricately constructed minimalist silhouettes.

All muted colors, artful layering, and subtle sexuality, Proenza Schouler hits a sweet spot with downtown girls—but chic ones (not the ragtag, do-it-yourself sort): Chloë Sevigny, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Karolina Kurkova have been photographed repeatedly in straight-off-the-runway looks.

Hernandez, who hails from Cuban Miami, got his feet wet as an intern at Michael Kors; McCollough, a New Jersey native, paid his dues at Marc Jacobs. Their senior-year collaboration was such a resounding success, the pair co-founded their own label—naming it for their mothers' maiden monikers—after graduation in 2002. The awards and accolades soon started to roll in: the CFDA Perry Ellis Award for new talent in 2003, the CFDA Womenswear Designer of the Year Award in 2007 (which they shared with Oscar de la Renta). The Valentino Fashion Group bought up a 45 percent stake in the company in 2007, as well—a blue-chip stamp of approval, if ever there was one—and American fashion's fortunate sons inked a shoe deal with Vicini SpA/Giuseppe Zanotti for spring 2009.

Fall 2014 Ready-to-Wear: Proenza Schouler

Runway, backstage, and front-row footage from the New York show.

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