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States Pop Quiz #11: Proenza Schouler

The inimitable design duo muse on gay marriage, being "bad" in school and epic road trips gone by

As part of our States of Independence summer takeover, 50 American indie icons have volunteered to take the Dazed Pop Quiz; a quick-fire Q&A about what they love and loathe about life in the USA. Check back here every day for more from the series. 

Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez – better known as Proenza Schouler – are the design duo that, in the course of the last decade, have gone from courting Brooklyn to possessing an extra-planetary hold on the fashion world. With their combined vision consistently on an invisible, relevant pulse, the Proenza boys create future fashions for the here and now. “At the end of the day, you know, we’re American" – so McCollough told Dazed in a long-read earlier this year. Whilst the eclectic influences running through their collections might come from all corners of the globe, don't let that fool you; the good old USA, with its classic silhouettes, home grown cinema and beautiful national parks, have all found their home in the designs. We spoke to Jack and Lazaro about what they've retained from their NY base and beyond – from Disney World to the Badlands.

Favorite slang phrase? 

Jack and Lazaro: Fuck you.

Where did you first fall in love?

Jack and Lazaro: Back room of the club Life in '99.

What's the best road trip you've ever been on? 

Jack and Lazaro: A couple months ago when we took a trop through Tanzania, or the one the year before – trekking through the Southern Island of New Zealand. Driving across through the USA is also pretty epic, especially out West.

What high school clique were you in? Do you stay in touch? 

Jack and Lazaro: Some of our oldest friends were our first friends. The "bad” kids.

Ultimate American film?

Lazaro Hernandez: My Own Private Idaho (Gus Van Sant).

Jack McCollough: The Shining (Stanley Kubrick).

What would make you leave America forever?

Jack and Lazaro: Love.

Most overrated US tourist attraction?

Jack and Lazaro: Disney World.

Most underrated US tourist attraction?

Jack and Lazaro: Badlands National Park.

What law would you change or invent?

Jack and Lazaro: Nationwide legalization of gay marriage. As a country, we definitely are behind the times on that one.

What food reminds you of home? 

Jack McCollough: Burgers. 

Lazaro Hernandez: Rice and beans!

Whose face should be on the $100 bill?

Jack and Lazaro: Steve Jobs – he changed the world.

What smell do you associate with the city of your birth?

Lazaro Hernandez: The ocean.

Jack McCollough: Wood burning fireplace.

What noise reminds you of the States? 

Jack and Lazaro: Ringing phones. Work!

What is your favorite American building?

Jack and Lazaro: The Wharton Esherick house in PA for its total commitment to an extreme personal vision.

Which living American do you most admire and why?

Jack and Lazaro: Barack Obama for his ability to inspire. Ralph Lauren for inventing and living his wild dream.

Which living American do you most despise and why?

Jack and Lazaro: Dangerous question. We'll plead the 5th.

What is your favorite quote about America?

Jack and Lazaro: "Just do it."

What three words define the States today?

Jack and Lazaro: Ambition, division, television.  

Who gave you your first break? Do you still talk?

Jack and Lazaro: Peter Arnold [former director of the CFDA], and Julie Gilhart, who is still our friend.

When + where you the most happiest?

Jack and Lazaro: Best to think that the happiest moment is still to come.

Ultimate American album?

Jack and Lazaro: John Phillips – The Wolf King of LA. Never gets old. Pure American.

What is your ultimate American guilty pleasure? 

Jack and Lazaro: Summer blockbuster movies.

Where in the States would you ride out the apocalypse? 

Jack McCollough: In a bunker deep deep underground, let’s hope. 

Lazaro Hernandez: Better to let that bomb knock me upside the head on its way down.

When was your last run-in with the cops? What happened? 

Jack McCollough: There might have been an arrest at 16. Again, I’ll plead the 5th. 

Lazaro Hernandez: Last week. Speeding ticket. 100mph on a 50mph road.

If you could change one thing about the US, what would it be?

Jack and Lazaro: Slooooower pace pleeeeeease...

Which fictional American do you most identify with?

Lazaro Hernandez: Phil from Groundhog Day (#currentmood).

Jack McCollough: Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye.

If you could vote for Obama again, would you?

Jack and Lazaro: Definitely.

If you lost it all tomorrow, what would you do the day after?

Jack and Lazaro: Start over.

What will America look like in 2050?

Jack and Lazaro: Computers for brains, 200 year life spans, and flying cars…aliens too, let’s hope.

Does the American Dream still exist?

Jack and Lazaro: Always.