February 14, 2012 New York
The designers opened with a series of boxy collared shirts that snapped closed at one shoulder and loose-fitting pleated trousers. Oversize is a look we've seen elsewhere this season, but Proenza Schouler has made it official—it's a trend. The tops and pants came in stiff white cottons, like karate gis, or in waxy black leather. Leather was a major element, and the way the designers worked it—by weaving thin strips of navy, black, and white, say, into a tiny grid for a side-zip jacket—was astounding. The handwork was equally impressive on a pair of quilted-satin varsity jackets embroidered with pheasants on the chest; ditto for the woven paillette skirts with which they were paired. Jack and Lazaro also endorsed brocade, another NYC undercurrent, for long-sleeve dresses that, with their complex construction, looked like jackets and flippy miniskirts.
The remarkable thing about the show was its evolution. Those scaled-up jackets and trousers at the beginning will be challenging to retailers. But by the end, the quilted-satin cocktail dresses with the bird embellishments (a callback to Hernandez and McCollough's breakthrough Spring 2010 collection) had the crowd raving. Their confidence is persuasive, and so is their skill.