“Art and commerce,” beamed Jack McCollough, after he and partner Lazaro Hernandez had staged what will surely be one of the most relevant shows and collections in the current season.
Staged inside Phillips Auction House on Park Avenue, the guests descending in a viewing gallery stripped bare for this show. A collection stripped back largely to its essentials too, the duo revealed. Since they undertook some 90 fittings in the past week – more than twice the number of looks in the show – practically unheard of in the days before an important show.
“As designers, commerce for commerce’s sake doesn’t make sense to us. We prefer creativity for creativity’s sake. But we know are producing something for people to wear – so we are constantly between those two ideas – art and commerce” continued Jack.
“So, showing in Phillips is our metaphor. It’s where art comes to be judged. To be priced, literally,” added Lazaro.
The duo grew up in an art school (San Francisco Art Institute and Parsons School of Design), and their earliest shows were highly experimental, another reason these clothes felt so strong. Every look seemed to suggest a previously untapped fabric or an unexpected cut and shape.
Diaphanous layers of transparent techy fabrics were the key to this collection. Led by great gauzy technical knits dresses worn with mesh tank tops, or remarkable cloud print veil cocktails.
An elegant trick of adding plaquettes to the back of redingotes, town coats and blazers added allure, while a series of cock feather on shoulders and arms suggested a little stylistic subversion.
A glossy finish – from the lightly lustrous ecru leather jackets, to the shiny transparent techy bodycon dresses. Plus, a certain sense of wateriness, especially in some outrageously cool dresses made of sequin shards so large they jangled loudly passing by.
Keeping the look nonchalant and a tad undone, with models’ hair loose and barely combed.
Many tops were deliberately cut askew, then worn twisted around the torso in the opposite direction. While cropped knit corsets featured – finally – a Proenza logo. Two Ps meeting to marry into an S.
“We have been working on it for three years, killing it and then bringing it back, killing it and then bringing it back,” joked Lazaro, before Jack added: “We must have tried 9,000 variations! In the end it was two Ps that make an S. That simple.”
The show came one day after Peter Do’s lame debut for Helmut Lang in the latest attempt to revive the Austrian-born label. At least three editors backstage were heard to comment that Proenza Schouler would have been the ideal choice to helm Helmut Lang.
But the truth is, Jack and Lazaro are the new Helmut, thanks to their ability to create elegant clothes with a subtle edge, chic subversion for women on the move. Cool art and chic commerce.
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