Proenza Schouler Fall 2022 Ready-to-Wear Collection

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In the Brant Foundation’s stunning main exhibition space, with a violin quintet performing an original Earthheater composition, Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough adopted a new formality. The collection was a repudiation of homewear and other forms of sartorial indolence brought on by more than two years of the pandemic. With Omicron fading, they look forward to a fall season of strong cuts and soft dresses whose sophistication is matched with body-conscious sensuality.

The designers are a year away from their 20th in business. Looking back at the Parsons diploma collection that started it all for them in 2003 is to see that it too had a dressy formality, but a lot has changed in the decades since. For starters, despite Hernandez’s statement backstage that “we’re sick of sneakers,” there were wrestling shoes in the mix today, along with molded leather ballet flats.

Comfort and ease are the fashion buzzwords of the moment, relics of confinement that linger even as the long-awaited emergence begins to take shape. The corseted silhouettes that were Proenza Schouler’s first signature, however, have been completely reimagined for today, constructed from machines that knit in circles, allowing for a seamless cast look. Can a strapless dress with volume reminiscent of 18th century panniers really feel effortless? Yes, if it is a sculpted knit with a circular bias cut skirt. Hernandez and McCollough gave their tailoring the same waisted look by accessorizing suits with body sheaths covering the torso, or cutting jackets and coats to wrap over the stomach and button down the side, the equivalent fabric with a firm hug.

If this outing was a reassessment of their past, it didn’t depend on it. A loose shirt dress with a flowing curled hem stood out in color, a vibrant purple hue they’d previously avoided. Another novelty is the animal print. During a pre-fall get-together in December, they said they once thought it was too obvious. Their idea here was to allow the print to glitch, as if the color didn’t pick up creases and creases in the fabric as it passed through the machine.

Ottessa Moshfegh provided a short story which they distributed on the show benches; its title asked “Where will we go next?” It’s a good question, but formality with an edge of imperfection – with the stuffing removed – feels right for now.

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