PROENZA SCHOULER: HAVING A BALL
FROM THE VOLT (SPRING SUMMER 2011)
If the whole world is a vogue ball, then rolled eyes and glances at shoes and tsk-ing and nudging at other folk’s fashions are daily “shade” – as they say on the vogue circuit. From runway to real way, the legendary ruling Mothers of the House of Proenza Schouler are snatching CFDA trophies at every dance in every town. Their unique fashions this bright spring are a perverted vision of classic feminine coda: the tweed jacket, the cocktail dress, smart-for-town spikes, a pull-on jacket. She’s fun.
Let’s have some fun, too:
10: “Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez, welcome to spring’s ‘It actually could happen’ Let’s Pretend Big Vogue Ball. Your girl’s about to walk for the first time. Can you talk us through her looks?”
LH: “We’re sending her out in Exit 1. It’s all very soft pastel; typical feminine colours. She’s wearing her lavender pencil skirt, with her tweed turn-up jacket in a pale peach that’s slightly bobbled, plus the soft chiffon in the skirt.”
SHE’S A PRIM SORT, BUT COULD BE SOMEBODY’S MISTRESS FOR HER FIRST FORAY ONTO THE DANCE FLOOR. LEFT BANK X LONDON GIRL, PERHAPS? SHE SETS THE TONE FOR THE BOYS, WITH NO OBVIOUS REFERENCES TO ANY HOUSE THAT HAS PASSED BEFORE THEM. (SEE THE END WHEN I DARE MENTION CHANEL.)
SHE’S HOLDING HER BAG BY THE BARREL TOO – “IT’S A GESTURE”. SHE’S BREAKING RULES. THEY’RE GOOD AT BREAKING RULES. HER HAIR IS IRONED IN SECTIONS AND SPRAYED HARD WITH LACQUER TO MAKE IT SET THEN COMBED THROUGH – NO TIE-DYE LOCKS NOW – MAKE-UP IS MINIMAL. SHE’S RECENTLY HAD SEX, YOU CAN JUST TELL. THEY LOVE THIS…
LH: “It’s the walk of shame.”
JM: “She’s always a little dirty, our girl.”
10: “Perhaps a potential Proenza Schouler fragrance would smell like sex. Or the walk of shame.”
LH: “It would smell like something really nice that was put on the night before, and then she had quite an evening, and it’s all mixed in with a little bit of cigarette smoke. Yeah, cigarette smoke and something really pretty at the same time.”
SPRING VOGUE BALL – EXIT 2
They feel pressure to reinvent themselves one season after the next, they admit to this, but they’ve chosen this. The yardstick by which they judge themselves is their own – always the harshest.
Their next look for our imaginary ball is as polished and proper and bourgeois as the rest – well, kind of. Lazaro wants to dress her all in black and he’s playing an odd game with fabrics: a sporty black alligator jacket over long-sleeved chiffon blouse, fastened at the neck. Does that jacket belong to her or is it a lover’s from the night before?
10: “She’s gone evening now.”
LH: “She’s kind of evil! She’s a little more evil than evening, I think.”
10: “Is she screwing the boss, and is that his jacket?”
LH: “She IS the boss.”
10: “I think she might carry a whip.”
LH: “But in her bag, so no one could see it, that’s too obvious.”
10: “Do you think she’s got a criminal record?”
JM: “Probably, she’s not wearing any underwear.”
10: “She’s definitely not wearing underwear. What was she arrested for?”
LH: “Probably smoking pot at 16.”
THERE’S NOTHING BAD HERE. “SHE” – THE GIRL – HAS THOSE DAYS, YOU KNOW THE ONES, BUT THERE’S NOTHING BAD. SHE’S GOOD-BAD NOW, BUT SHE’S BEEN WORSE BEHAVED. AGES AGO SHE FANCIED DYLAN FROM BEVERLY HILLS, 90210 WHEN ALL THE OTHER GIRLS FANCIED BRANDON. “HE’S TOO GOOD,” SHE’D SAY, “AND ANYWAY, DYLAN RIDES A MOTORBIKE.” WHEN SHE’S NOT DRESSING UP, SHE’S DOWN. “LOOK AT THOSE SWEAT PANTS AND, GOD FORBID, THOSE FURRY DESIGNER BOOTS THEY ALL WEAR. SEX AND THE CITY AND THOSE AWFUL CLOTHES ARE A MISOGYNISTIC PLOT,” SHE SAYS ON REPEAT WHEN SHE’S HAD A FEW TOO MANY.
10: “She’s not carrying a bag, but if she were there’d be a book inside – which one?”
LH: “For that black look? Probably a collection of short stories and poems by Edgar Allan Poe.”
10: “And, then, obviously, a copy of American Vogue, where she’s scratched out the eyes of the girls because she hates them.”
LH: “[Laughs.] Exactly.”
10: “I’m quoting you on that.”
LH: “I think she’s a little bit more French Vogue in this exit, whereas before she was a little more American Vogue.”
SPRING VOGUE BALL – EXIT 3
For the second half of the collection the boys turned to colour, brights in particular. Acid brights: orange and green, and a lemon so sulphuric it’s reined in with a black chiffon overlay. This makes it look subversive. Another see-through chiffon over-dress – spared of any fuss, bar a little detail on the hem, something that hints at pockets and a flash of this same lemon in the shoulder straps – reveals a retro-looking bra top and underskirt. Evening, day, under, outer, brights and black – chiffon.
JM: “Yeah, I think she might go a little more neon for this exit.”
LH: “Well, maybe she’s in the chiffon, kind of ruffled, really graphic pieces like the black and white, sulphur-yellow colour.”
10: “She means business.”
LH: “Sure does. With her underwear on underneath, but you can kind of see it through the sheer fabrics.”
10: “Is she channelling the spirit of Proenza?”
SPRING BALL – EXIT 4
It’s fierce on the floor now. Rival houses throwing some serious shapes. We’re not phased: for her next walk, Lazaro has dressed her in an orange shift with a little black collar. It’s damn bright, this orange, and you see it all the more with the black. Black brings the brights out more. One orange and black cropped jacket where fabrics are compressed and folded and stitched and bound is immaculate and under the lights it looks like hundreds of mosaic tessera.
You get the sense from these clothes that we’ve caught her coming from, and going to, somewhere. This is an interesting take on design. Design should have purpose, of course, but this fashion butterfly is pinned and they give us clues as to her whereabouts and especially about her spirited life. I’m conscious of the fact that this girl has a life and the clothes are part of that. The girl comes first. The clothes are a close second.
JM: “She’s bipolar. Bored of black, she got bored of chiffons, and now she’s into what’s different. She still likes the lace idea, so now she wants some colour. But she’s in flat shoes.”
URK! FLAT SHOES? NOT VERY PROENZA. APPARENTLY IT IS. THE LAST FOUR LOOKS OF THE SHOW WERE DEVOTED TO FLATS. THERE ARE FLATS NOW – WE’LL SPEAK TO THEM AGAIN IN SIX MONTHS’ TIME; THIS GIRL GETS BORED, QUICKLY.
10: “And I’m looking at the orange and black ‘tweed’ jacket and, forgive me, I’m wondering what Mademoiselle Chanel would think.”
LH: “What Coco Chanel would think? She’d be proud.”
10: “Would she? I think she’d wear them and smoke a lot of cigarettes in them.”
LH: “One would hope. Who knows? We don’t really care, anyway – she’s no longer with us.
by Richard Gray
Photography by Jason Lloyd-Evans