Fashion Week: Peeling a banana at Proenza Schouler

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

NEW YORK (AP) — The Associated Press is all over New York Fashion Week, from the runways to celebrities as eight days of spring previews entered their final day Thursday.



If there was one defining concept for Proenza Schouler's latest collection — and don't call it a theme, because the designers eschew themes — it was the peeling of a banana.

Yes, a banana. "The idea of peeling away layers," Lazaro Hernandez, half of the designing duo, said backstage. "So we were looking at these traditional shirts, and then unbuttoning it, and peeling it over the shoulders, and inserting straps. These clothes were sort of falling off their bodies. Unraveling."

Indeed, many garments did lack shoulders. And they were tied together with ribbons, not buttons. "We got rid of all the buttons," Hernandez said; the designers wanted it to feel like "you pull a ribbon and the whole garment falls to the floor."

Fashionistas left the show positively raving about what they had just seen, and that's hardly surprising: Hernandez and partner Jack McCollough are true darlings of the fashion world, and this time they delivered yet another hit.

Though many saw a clear Spanish influence in the innovative collection, the duo shied away from attaching a clear label. Still, Hernandez, who has Cuban roots, noted that their inspiration came from examining his own personal background.

"We wanted to look at my personal history somehow," he said. "We've never really done that. So we were like looking at pictures of family, and there was a heat and a sensuality, all those cultures that felt sort of right and powerful and emotional."

One obvious Latin accent was a ruffle — not a typical element for these very contemporary designers, famous for introducing new shapes and using cutting-edge technology to create new fabrics.

"A ruffle's kind of weird," said Hernandez. "A ruffle feels so WRONG. We like things that feel wrong, first of all, and (figuring out) how to turn that into something that feels kind of great. So we were like messing with ruffles, and I guess a flamenco reference comes from that."

For these famously inventive designers, in sum, there was less invention this season — on purpose. "Less science, less technology," Hernandez said. "More traditional craft. And then when it's perfect? Breaking it down. Creating something beautiful, and then destroying it."

—Jocelyn Noveck