We were interested in a sense of unraveling – of cutting loose, breaking things down. Peeling away layers to find something pure,’ said Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez of their SS16 collection.
It was immaculate. From the pristine white trouser suit punctuated with black buttons and bow that opened the show, to the final black evening dress covered in metal marbles, the Proenza boys’ collection was as gripping to watch as it will be a pleasure to photograph and for many to wear it. For the two designers who delight in taking risks by offering something entirely different from one season to the next, the gamble paid off, and brilliantly. The recurring theme here was a deep Latin influence (not the first time we’ve seen it this week, check Oscar de la Renta, for one) that gave us ribbons, ruffles, mini pom-pom trims, feathers and lace. But if that sounds overly fancy, it wasn’t. Think flamenco through an ultra-modernist lens. It helped that almost everything was stripped away to black and white, aside from the occasional zing of scarlet or vivid green, and that every detail was used so sparingly, recalling Spain’s most revered fashion designer, Cristobal Balenciaga. (Was this one almighty pitch to follow in Nicolas Ghesquiere and Alexander Wang’s footsteps?) But the Proenzaisms were there too: Jacket and coat collars peeled away like paper cut by a scalpel, fishnet knits had a modern sex appeal and, having had such success with their experimental eveningwear (see Kim and Kristen in last season’s feathered-grommeted affairs), they did it again, only this time it featured feathered webs worn over cut-out mini dresses or fishnet skirts clinking with mini metal ball bearings. Needless to say, Proenza was the show of New York Fashion Week so far.
It was Jason Wu’s fourth outing for Boss and the designer, perhaps bowing to pressure from critics to both loosen and lighten up the German brand, did just that. The difference was immediate. Instead of opening with the usual might-have-been-sculpted-from-marble tailoring, his first suit comprised fine layers, long, fluid and free of rigid sleeves. It even had wispy fringing fluttering from one lapel, a weightless detail that cropped up throughout. Then came the layering of semi-transparent pleats (Issey Miyake has a lot to answer for this major New York trend) that flowed across the body in pale lemon and vivid red and blue. Then the finest silk threads wafted from Binx Walton's calf-length skirt, feathers fluttered from the seams of a strapless navy cocktail dress, and finally fringes of microscopic beads flew from every square inch of those precious after-dark dresses that tinkled as they went by. Wu could not have tried harder to meet the demand to soften the Boss look. And it worked a treat.
When Russian model Sasha Pivovarova strode out, her hair (styled by Orlando Pita) mussed up over her face and wearing a black cropped coat decorated with silk flowers, a crisp white shirt beneath it and chunky black sandals on her feet, it was hard to believe we were at a Michael Kor show. Erin O’Connor, the thirtysomething British model, stalked out next in black wrap coat and white shirt dangling long ties from the cuffs, confirming that Kors was instigating a small rebellion away from the signature glossy hair, tanned limbs and always refined (if conservative) upscale all-American clothes that we have become accustomed to. He called it ‘earthy elegance’, and that translated as more fashion edge. Take the vests and knitwear that wrapped the ribcage and left long ties hanging, the black pleated looks covered in miniature silver grommets, the mannish utility trousers and jackets in crushed white cotton, or the black tailored suits that came with an amber brooch fastened to the breast. It was a smart move because it gave a balance to the more indulgently feminine pieces, such as poppy-red or iris-blue dresses covered in silk blooms and the hip-hugging skirts cascading with ruffles. That’s not to say there weren’t the predictable Michael Korsisms to keep his devotees happy (and no reason they wouldn’t they be happy with the above either). Shades of vanilla, straw and nutmeg (as the show notes described them – actually variations on beige) gave that healthy, wealthy woman ingredient alongside peasant blouses, which are sure to become a key-referenced piece.