Proenza Schouler: Getting in touch with your inner Latino
New York Fashion Week properly opened Friday afternoon with Proenza Schouler, the first important show listed on the official runway calendar and it transpired a homage to the Latin origins of one half of the designer duo.
Passionate, sultry and slick, this was a thoroughly powerful fashion statement, powered on by multiple Latino elements; from flamenco dresses, to ruffled pants, to the sheer steaminess of the mood. A first-rate cast, showing lots of flesh covered in perspiration, as if they just exited a samba dance floor.
From Kendall Jenner with a sweaty torso and greased back hair, appearing in a semi-sheer loose weave knit skirt and bra top, both finished with fringes, to Mariacarla Boscono in a loose knit tank over a beautifully cut tulip skirt.
Pencil pants flared out below the knee worthy of a salsa star, rouched halter-neck dresses were cut handkerchief style. The color palette was exuberantly tropical: bitter lemon, violet, turquoise and gold. Yet, even if pointedly Hispanic, the collection never felt literal and the clothes all had that hybrid modernism of uptown chic and downtown cool that is the signature of the Proenza Schouler duo of Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez.
“Identity, gender identity, cultural identity, my Latin history that we have never really explored. I’m Cuban and it’s about my family. And how we Latinos need some love. There is so much beauty and passion in that culture that it seemed amazing to explored,” explained Hernandez.
Moreover, the pair broke new ground with the unexpected and exhilarating materials. Opening with multiple machine crochet garments with techno finishes. Later, incorporating lacquer and viscose meshes in sexy cocktails, and finishing smart dresses with Irish lace made from French embroidery.
Known for tapping into unique artisans, this season Proenza Schouler ventured to Bolivia.
“We found this beautiful community of hand weavers - part of the Latin thing - and some the cotton yarns mixed with metallic shreds at the finale were hand crocheted by them. They worked on this for the past six months and were so joyful and happy,” explained McCollough.
Staged inside the Hall des Lumières, a landmark Beaux Arts building near City Hall, though reimagined brilliantly with an immersive video installation so the cast all marched before giant Niagara-worthy cascades - adding effectively to the drama.
Asked why he felt like referencing his Latin origins, Hernandez responded: “Maybe because my dad is getting old. And he has been telling me lots of stories about back in the days. He is writing poems now. A lot of Latin men feel they cannot express emotion but in his old age he has gotten emotional and is writing about his life, which is beautiful, touching and inspiring.”
Given the sheer quality and novelty of this show, it looks like New York might just be about to have a bumper season.
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