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Photography by Katsuo Mifreki

Proenza Schouler Does Pitti

Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez added theatrics to the presentation of their pre-collection.

The art-meets-fashion consensus is often associated with Pitti Immagine in Florence. The sumptuous trade show has hosted a number of international names in the past – including Cassette Playa, Giambattista Valli and Maison Martin Margiela – showcasing their collections as part of special events during Pitti Uomo and, more recently, Pitti Woman. This time around, it was a turn for New York duo Proenza Schouler, who chose to present their spring 2010 pre-collection in the vast 16th century monument, Villa La Petraia. Celebrating both the 4th edition of Pitti Woman as well as the latest edition of A magazine, which they guest-curated, the show was a raucous, art-fuelled affair, resulting in a medium mash up, that is a far cry from your typical catwalk presentation.

“We figured you don’t really need to see another runway show” said Jack McCollough at the press conference in the morning. And sticking to their American roots, a host of New York starlets was flown in especially for the night: including Chloe Sevigny (who starred in Kalup Linzy’s film that screened on the terrace), Liya Kebede (who adopted Renaissance poses in the large prints), Haim Steinbach (who created an indoor accessories installation) and finally, artist Kembra Pfahler. The latter gave Italians an ear-piercing performance in the guise of her heavy metal act, The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black. We asked McCollough and Hernandez to explain the complex workings behind this striking, out of the ordinary presentation.

Dazed Digital: Can you tell us about the inspiration behind the spring 2010 pre-collection?
Jack McCollough: We were looking at 50s and 60s surf culture. California and beachy vibe, that kind of thing. There’s an escapist quality to it.

DD: You decided to do a presentation rather than a typical runway show.
Lazaro Hernandez: Well, we figured you don’t really need to see another show. You guys have seen so many. So we invited our three favourite artists to interpret the collection using three different mediums – an installation, a video and, finally, a performance. Right now, we’re really into the idea of people remixing our work and making something different from what we originally intended. You will see that in the magazine too.

DD: One of the recurring themes in your work is Americana. Do you see yourselves as quintessentially American designers? How did you transport that influence to Europe?
Lazaro Hernandez: We think of ourselves as American designers, but we definitely don’t want to get pigeonholed. It’s nice to bring bits and pieces here.
Jack McCollough: I think what’s great about New York, or American culture in general, is that it’s a melting pot of so many different cultures. So we have this beachy, surf-inspired collection, but we’re showing it in a Medici palazzo with Renaissance poses and the black model Liya Kebede, who is very different from the typical women in Italian art. What you get is this mix of very different ideas, which, in the end of the day, is a very American thing.

DD: I have a few random questions for you now. Can you name any person living or dead who you would most like to have dinner with?
Lazaro Hernandez: Coco Chanel.
Jack McCollough: Ghandi and Leonardo da Vinci. Yeah, it would be very interesting to hear what da Vinci had to say!

DD: What music do you listen to in your studio?
Lazaro Hernandez: God, everything. It’s always a tricky question!
Jack McCollough: We listen to all genres, but lately we’ve been really into OMD and Fleetwood Mac.

DD: What’s next for Proenza Schouler?
Lazaro Hernandez: Vacation!