Two Americans in Paris kick started couture week yesterday: Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez showed a Proenza Schouler collection (a merger of their S/S 18 and cruise) for the first time in the French capital, choosing to do so during couture instead of September’s ready-to-wear week for production, sales and delivery timing (buyers shop cruise collections in early July) but also, according to rumours, to reposition a brand that is not commercial enough for the American market.
And reposition they did. Against the backdrop of a public high school cloister not far from Montmartre, the pair showed a collection as influenced by fetish as it was by French tradition. Nothing could be further away from the minimal collections shown in New York garages of which we are used to. 'We’ve been spending a little more time in Paris lately, and we’ve been searching all those little independent ateliers specialised in certain artisanal techniques, such as ribbon work, feather applications and hand-weaving. We even flew some embroiderers to New York, and collaborated with the iconic Maison Lesage', said the designers after the show. The result of these new explorations was a collection more playful than usual, from the flared lace trousers, the feathered coats and bags and the frilly pink dresses showing a naughty glimpse of underwear, to the noisy kitten heels with fetish patent leather details, going clickety click against the mosaic floor.
It was an interesting evolution, even if the insertion of their newfound French inspirations into their otherwise American cool aesthetics could be further refined. McCollough and Hernandez might not have counted on the fundamental attitude gap between American and French reviewers. 'That was cute but where were the clothes for the real customers?', exclaimed one Parisian journalist. Still, kudos to the duo for daring to take such a risky move and embracing everything Paris has to offer.