New York Women’s Fashion Week S/S 2020 Part 2: Proenza Schouler

The big word in fashion lately has been appropriation. And the New York designers are good at it, as in appropriating European runways. Tommy Hilfiger with his show at the Apollo Theatre in Harlem took it to unbearable heights when he appropriated Black music culture for his marketing-driven show while an hour later Pyer Moss in Brooklyn delivered a pure statement on it. While it’s rare to see truly original fashion here, Proenza Schouler’s show was one of those rare exceptions last Tuesday evening.

They have been one of New York’s only credible fashion voices for many years now and while their early shows often resembled too much what was shown from directional brands in Europe, they have really hit their stride ever since they came back to New York after showing in Paris for a while. Their arts and crafts approach, their proximity to the coolest girls in New York and newfound freedom by buying back their brand was all in the mix here. While often up for big jobs in Paris but never chosen, with no investment from LVMH, Kering or Richemont, McCollough and Hernandez have struggled to take their obvious design talents to the next level. But with the new group of private investors they have found lately and turnaround specialist Kay Hong as new CEO, they are poised to take their nearly two-decade run of being the cool New York brand to new heights.

Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez at the finale.

The Madame Grès factor?

Many looks featured Grecian draping in the most unexpected places like the billowing, black pants on Binx Walton worn with a leather-strap top to juxtapose the playfulness.

Binx Walton at the Proenza Schouler show.

Who is this woman?

In a season where the street style outside venues has taken on new heights of tastelessness, when even the American editor crowd looks costumed, it was refreshing to see that Proenza Schouler still celebrates and zeroes in on the brainy and independent Gotham girl – even if she only exists on their runway at the moment. 

Proenza Schouler creating the image of the independent Gotham girl.

Revealing thought?

It felt like a best of Proenza Schouler show at times. The two-tone coats caressing the body, the light touch with viscose, a clear idea of cut and line coming to live on arts and crafts surfaces, the light draping around the feminine form, the clever use of buttons to dissect dresses, the pastel colors with lots of black and white plus their signature mannish tailoring. 

The collection showed some feminin draping and pastel colors.

The German spin?

The duo collaborated with Birkenstock here. The Bonn-based sandal company has been making a name for itself in fashion lately on well-chosen projects with Rick Owens or Valentino and now Proenza Schouler. Some looks featured their new sandals combined with a handbag dangling from the models’ wrists. Why? “Oh, that means she is going places, even if we don’t know where,” explained a relaxed Lazaro Hernandez in Chelsea’s Lehmann Maupin Gallery a day after his show. Birkenstock had rented the top gallery to present the entire collection and cleverly positioned the sandals next to the fantastic Alex Prager photography show, which is currently running there.

The models were carrying sandals from the label’s new collaboration with Birkenstock.