>> It seemed a bit of a dichotomy to find a New York design duo like Proenza Schouler, with their tech fabrics and glitchy references moshed up on a glowing cube, in a prim n’ proper department store like Le Bon Marché. That’s testament to the hyper ascent that Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez have enjoyed in their twelve-year long career, particularly in the latter years. Yet here they are feted in the central atrium of the iconic department store with a sort-of-, kind-of, mid-point retrospective of their work, with every one of those seasons. “We’re super honoured that as New York designers, we’ve been asked by this amazing Parisian department store to do an exhibition like this. It’s the first time we have seen all of our stuff together like this, ” said Hernandez. “We had to choose from an archive of twelve years and we both have our personal favourites,” said McCollough. “It’s weird looking back on things we did a few years ago – like a super short skirt with heels and thinking how it doesn’t look modern or ‘now’.”
What’s interesting with this display of eighty looks, ensconced in concrete blocks, is that although the silhouette has shifted over the years, from the more chi-chi cocktail dresses to sculptural shapes, the obsession with fabrication remains a constant. In particular, the last four years has seen McCollough and Hernandez go hard at trying to outdo themselves season after season, in technical advancement. Anything one of the bonding, fusing, burning, painting, felting, pleating and printing processes are pushed to the outer limits. It doesn’t bode well for wallet-friendly pieces (outside of their commercial sales lines) but that’s why the duo are always a highlight at New York Fashion Week – the bottom line isn’t as important as driving forward their own momentum and as a result, your takeaway from NYFW is often that they’ve set the agenda.
It was telling that a documentary film (brilliantly directed by the Harry’s), filming the run-up to the recent A/W 14 show and that aforementioned glowing cube, mish-mashing past Proenza Schouler references, textures and show imagery in an arbitrary sequence were embedded inside the exhibition, surrounded by the outfits on mannequins. Despite all waffle about the duo being designers, who grew up with the internet and the digital world, the clothes still do most of the talking. The extra digital dimension is the icing on top of a pretty impressive cake. We marvelled at the cube and was diverted by the film, but most of the women were rifling through the racks and shelves containing a capsule collection of t-shirts, sweaters, PS1’s and 11’s in exclusive colours, as well as exclusive pieces from the S/S 14 collection that were not included in the show. Then the crowd enjoyed a set by Ariel Pink – another dichotomous occurrence to see in amongst the bijoux beauty counters of Le Bon Marché. The exhibition is open until the 22nd of May should anyone in Paris like to see this American intervention.