Proenza Schouler at NYC spring/summer fashion week 2013!

With a collection of assured modernity, shown in the majestic shell of a nineteenth-century building, Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandezseemed to still and quiet the noise and the chaos of our too-much-informational age. McCollough explained that they wanted to explore “a mix of technology and craft,” and they utilized time-honored techniques like patchwork and crochet (already seasonal trends) in exciting ways, and deftly harnessed them to garments of such tidy perfection that they seemed computer-manufactured.

 The show began quietly enough, with pieces that were cut as crisply as a paper-doll’s wardrobe—a sleeveless jean jacket with a box-pleated miniskirt, a dress with a stiff A-line flare, an exaggerated tee—in bold color blocks of perforated leather. Look by look the complexity increased. That color-blocking turned into elaborate patchwork effects (of eelskin, leather, and python, for instance), mirrored in the clutch purses. Pattern pieces and decorative circle insets were linked by narrow strips of crochet-work (woven by hand in Madagascar, so finely that they seemed, ironically, machine-made). Dark gladiator boots and flared-heel open-toed shoes, together with black lycra bands at the neck (a twenty-first-century take on a belle époque choker) gave a tough edge to the looks. But a softness was introduced in the bias-cut chiffon dresses with prints designed to swirl and eddy around the body, and sinuous seams were linked with press studs. Insets of abstract-motif black lace revealed further glimpses of flesh.

 The artist Gerhard Richter’s compelling overpainted photographs, with their glutinous paint treatments splashed over landscape images and portraits, were a conceptual starting point for the most complex dresses. The designers utilized photo prints of random images found on Tumblr—a desertscape of succulent plants, a blurry crowd scene—and abstracted and defaced them in the Richter manner. Those prints were spliced with solid duchess satin pattern pieces, punctured with grommets in the skirts (the most decorative use of this humble trim since Alaïa’s early eighties gauntlets), and embroidered with tiny satin discs in a polka-dot effect. They were perversely chic. -

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