New York - After presenting their Proenza Schouler collections in Paris for the past several seasons, Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough brought their New York-born brand home for spring 2019. And it was filled with references to a rugged, wide-open Americana.
Everything was big: the dresses, the pants, the bags. It was the fashion equivalent of man-spreading, of taking up space. This was big-shouldered America on the runway. It was disconcerting in its wide-legged swagger. But that's also what made it interesting.
The designers were inspired by the work of German artist Isa Genzken, who created an installation for the show's setting - an unfinished loft space of raw concrete on Wall Street. Her sculpture used garments from Proenza Schouler, as well as a mishmash of mannequins, spray cans and plastic tarp. The result was like a chaotic glimpse of a Seventh Avenue street corner, like seeing the blue-collar labour of fashion tarted up for inspection.
For the designers, this collection seemed looser and a bit bleaker than in the past. This take on American style notes the storm clouds and tornadoes rolling in over the plains. Much of the denim is faded. The vests flap over boxy shirts. The dresses form a tent around the body.
A small household's worth of possessions could fit in one of those enormous bags. But if a woman ever filled one up, it would be impossible to carry. So that bag really is just for effect. All that space goes to waste.
This isn't a glamorous collection depicting a girl about town. It's more blue-collar, with allusions to a girl who punches a clock. She's not in the big city, but perhaps she dreams about it. She looks good on her own terms.
But there's also something a bit melancholy and ironic about those proportions, with everything all blown up and the body hidden. The clothes allow a woman to take up space, to claim ground. Even as she's walking around with a giant bag that's too big to fill.
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