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Proenza Schouler offers function, less fantasy

The fashion label presented a low-key, functional collection, without its past conceptual showiness, at New York Fashion Week

Fashion from Proenza Schouler latest collection is modeled backstage in a first-look setup during Fashion Week, Saturday Feb. 11, 2023 in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews) (AP)

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US fashion label Proenza Schouler presented a low-key, functional collection, without its past conceptual showiness, as the brand marks its 20th anniversary at New York Fashion Week.

This year, designers Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough, said they broke with their typical creative process.

Most often, "we get wrapped up in like a narrative or a theme or a vibe," Hernandez said after Saturday's show.

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"This season... we started with literally headshots of the women in our lives that we look up to and respect on a personal level, on a stylistic level."

Those women included American actor Chloe Sevigny, who opened the show on Saturday wearing a suit and a long skirt of leather, a material used prominently in the collection.

Long an avant-garde and conceptual label, Proenza Schouler has evolved in recent years to build a more pragmatic wardrobe. This fall and winter 2023 collection appears to be a culmination of that trend.

"We're tired of all this fantasy, and like, Instagram clothes," Hernandez said.

The collection, clothing with character but less swagger, includes several relatively classic pantsuits and many below-the-knee skirts, accentuated with high boots, often in leather.

Still, Proenza has not abandoned sophistication.

Fluid dresses opened in multicolored petals as models walked the runway.

One bright yellow suit featured a wide collar that stretched past the shoulder, while the flap of an asymmetrical dress fell along an arm.

The designers displayed that they know, with a light touch, how to transform a silhouette with subtlety.

The 20th-anniversary collection opened "a new chapter for us," McCollough said. "It's like the beginning of something else. Something maybe more adult. We've grown up in front of all of you guys. It's time to grow up and be an adult."

He said Proenza's new way of conceiving their clothes was appealing and freeing.

"Sometimes theme can be nice, and that you have a device to kind of tap into. But it's also freeing to just get rid of it altogether," McCollough said.

"And just think about individual garments, and the spirit of a woman."

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