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Proenza Schouler AW15, Abstract Expressionism, Fishnet Tight
Left, Irina Liss (The Lions), right, Ine Neefs (DNA) backstage at Proenza Schouler AW15Photography Lea Colombo

Proenza Schouler AW15 + livestream

Abstract expressionism meets high tech fabrics as the design duo find inspiration in avant-garde art

TextSusie LauPhotographyLea Colombo

Initial reaction:

The abstract expressionism of the 1940s New York School movement inspired Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough to similarly take an abstract free-falling approach – where anything tailored was duly slashed, anything constricted was made to fall off the body and where their signature technical textiles were taken to new heights with every fabric built up in layers, much like the layers of paint on in-action canvases. “Creating a freedom to the clothes,” is how McCollough described the process of creating what felt like a new pinnacle for the brand. 

Technical textiles:

It wouldn’t be a Proenza Schouler collection without the thoroughly complex textile processes that make their pieces so special. Backstage, they called it their most technical collection yet – as they described sections of chiffon needle-punched over over and again to create a stiffened fabric used on the tailoring and the tweed that was made out of strips of fabrics, that were especially woven for the purpose. The flocked edges created a graduated texture, while the dense embroidery of side-turned sequins exploded in brilliant tinsel dresses – slashed at the hips exposing graphic fishnet tights. Even without knowing the ins and outs of all the fabrications, it was obvious that what pulsed through was genuine newness and innovation.

Adapting the abstract:

There’s nothing new about designers being inspired by the art world. McCollough and Hernandez however, managed to combine their references – the hard-edges of Ellsworth Kelly, the spontaneous watered out paintings of Helen Frankenthaler and most prominently, the hanging fabric sculptures of Robert Morris, and his treatment of materials – in a way that felt neither literal or overworked. The brutalist Marcel Breuer building in the Whitney Museum of American Art served as the venue, and was the perfect setting for this freethinking collection, where new boy Jelle Haen popped up in one of the looks. McCollough talked about just letting things be and evolve all by themselves. The cut and slashed tailoring which fell around the body was directly inspired by those aforementioned artists, but then evolved into fur-trimmed and chiffon dresses dripping with grommets – an unrestrained end passage that felt slightly animalistic when backed by Cut Hands’ track “The Claw”. “We were looking at abstract expressionism and you’d see photographs of these amazing women in fur coats walking around galleries in the 1940s and we thought there was something interesting about the relationship between viewer and maker.” Us in the audience as the viewer were definitely bowled over by McCollough and Hernandez – the makers who undoubtedly rule the roost in New York.

The soundtrack to Proenza Schouler AW15