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Proenza Schouler SS17 NYFW Womenswear Dazed
Backstage at Proenza Schouler SS17Photography Driely S

Proenza Schouler show a colourful collage of ideas for SS17

With a rave-like soundtrack, a vibrant mix of fluid, energetic references brought a sense of heady summers to their collection

“It was a mix of things, a collage of ideas. We wanted to be very spontaneous so there was no concrete inspiration.” This was how Jack McCollough summed up the latest Proenza Schouler collection. It’s the sort of post-show statement that could sound throwaway and blasé in the scheme of things, but looking at the clothes, it was clear that the PS message is still as focused as ever. 

“We wanted to bring back colour this season and with it being a spring show, we had months to really think about it and bring that experience of heady summers to it,” added Lazaro Hernandez. What does that entail? Sitting on black patent covered cubes, with a New York Indian summer outside, you could feel the sweat of a club. A rave-like throbing Le Loup soundtrack led the rhythmic charge of bouncing Miyake-esque pleats, knits that vibrated with precise technique and in yer face graphic tees layered over longer skater-style ones. The primary swathes of colour, which the duo were keen to bring back, played out in broken up stripes, intarsia furs and skirts that juddered their way down the runway, solidified by chunky wedges. This summer of spontaneity also featured Calder-esque earrings hung on ears that had been splattered with pigment, like the vibrancy of an Indian Holi festival. No wonder onlookers couldn’t quite pinpoint the references – it was a well-travelled amalgamation of what they referred to as their core codes. 

“We also wanted to bring an energy back to our core codes – an energy, a life, a technology” – Jack McCollough

“We also wanted to bring an energy back to our core codes – an energy, a life, a technology,” said McCollough. As exposed in the recently finished Manus x Machina exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum, the word technology, when used in the context of fashion, doesn’t necessarily just equate to wearables and futuristic aesthetics. Technology facilitates the intricate level of craft that goes into garments and that was once again the focal point for McCollough and Hernandez. From the ateliers of Paris, where fabrics for haute couture are created, they plucked out an artisanal woven jacquard worked on a hand loom, with ostrich feathers stitched in individually. And from the specialist manufacturers in Japan, came a super light woven leather, which was worked into athletic elongated dresses. The clothes didn’t need the heavy-handed craft talk, though. The fabrications pulsed with a vigour that perhaps can’t really be discerned from still imagery.

The randomness carried through into the graphics, where photographs of McCollough’s fist were mixed up with abstracted images of 1950s hand models and Bernini sculptures. Along with peeled back jackets tied around the waist, the collection veered away from the monochromatic elegance of the seasons gone before. And the final symbol to end this collage of ideas? A heart, cut-out of the chest of a black jumper. Not because of any schmaltzy summer lovin’ vibes, but instead the heart shape was borrowed from a painting by the artist John Currin, in keeping with McCollough and Hernandez’s fascination with American contemporary art. Heart is what keeps McCollough and Hernandez at the top of the NYFW pile.