‘Softness’ in the conceptual rather than tactile sense guided Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez’s latest Proenza Schouler collection. It was there in the curved shoulders and lapels of the white bouclé jacket that opened the show, and present in a palette that hewed to black and white, with limited use of lavender, peach and palest mint (soft colours, see?).
The silhouettes in this collection were all gentler, more diffuse, than the acid-toned, Tumblr-inspired mash-ups of last season. A mint knit top flowed into a bleached ostrich-skin skirt with no interruption in silhouette other than the buckles on the side. A pair of black-and-mint trousers somehow managed the triple feat of appearing tailored, sleek and slouchy. Squiggle-print dresses with flat, asymmetrical peplums looked like the sort of thing sure to make everyone else at a party feel fustily dressed.
‘She’s softer,’ Lazaro Hernandez said of this season’s girl backstage after the show. ‘That’s what feels fresh to us. We were tired of sharp and angular and really bright - this is what felt cool.’
Then, the chime of chainmail: a curtain of metal acted like ‘a gloss’ over tonal blocks of black and white, to borrow Hernandez’s term. In a sheath dress, it looked like an urban/futuristic update of Prada’s Chandelier designs; in tops and backwards jackets, it had a heft and gleam that counteracted the more Establishment associations of tweed suits and skirts.
The textural play reached a crescendo with the two finale gowns: body-wrapping, rubberized-lace-like dresses that could have grown in a petri dish, they were so unusual. Developing that fabric took two months, Hernandez said.
It looked more organic than the result of such intense efforts. But think of the ballerina en pointe, or the stylist in new stilettos casually picking her way between cobblestones on a Soho street: it takes a lot of work to look that relaxed. Next season, at least, the Proenza Schouler men have done it for us.