Proenza Schouler’s Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez spoke about the process of creating their spring 2021 collection at a time when no one knew where the world would be six months later.
Sitting down to work there last April, they faced a white wall and had to find the best way forward.
In a conversation with Samira Nasr, the new editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar on Monday as part of IMG’s NYFW: BTS series, the designers talked about their approach to design, what it’s not to be. having a show for the first time in their careers, and how to design a collection without a show is a different and welcome experience. They plan to show their spring collection in mid-October.
Nasr has had a friendly relationship with designers for 18 years, ever since she drew their portraits for their graduation thesis collection when they were “emerging designers” at Parsons School of Design.
The trio kicked off the conversation by talking about what New York has been through since that time and what New York is bringing to life.
“For us, the work we do is autobiographical. We always have something to say about the moment we live in. From the very beginning, every collection has always been a reaction to something we’ve seen, something we’ve done, someone we’ve met, a journey we’ve ‘taken… ”said Hernandez .
“No matter where the world is or what’s going on, and the ups and downs, there is always something to look at and inspire or draw, and we sort of create from the feeling of the moment,” did he declare.
McCollough added that this has always been their approach since they didn’t join a heritage brand after graduating. “We’ve been inventing it from scratch since we left. We’ve been around for a while, but we’re a relatively new brand in the grand scheme of things, ”McCollough said.
McCollough said their job, as well as Nasr’s, is to predict what people will be like six months from now.
“Our job is to predict where the world will be at that point,” McCollough said. He recalled that when they sat in their studio in the Berkshires and tried to figure out what was going to happen next, “our world or the future at least has never been so blurry.”
“We just sat down with our pencils and paper, and wanted to focus on something that felt completely optimistic to us,” McCollough said.
According to Hernandez, they usually have a process for each collection, which involves researching, building panels, researching vintage and creating looks with vintage clothing, and then they go to their studio in the woods and draw. “This season, the schedule was such that we had to draw on April 16th. Our life is super programmed like that. April 16 arrived and we had a studio with white walls. We had no research, nothing.
So they sat down, took a pencil and just drew for 10 days. “It was mood and feelings, it was pure imagination, which was kind of a release,” Hernandez said.
For Nasr, everything at Harper’s Bazaar happened on Zoom. “I am limited by the screen. I want humanity and a tactile experience. I want to feel the warmth of humanity, the warmth of possibilities and a tactile experience. Fabrics can give me that comfort.
McCollough asked Nasr about his approach since he started at Harper’s Bazaar as editor in June. “I am the editor in my apartment. I said to my seven year old son, “Do you know what I’m doing?” And he’ll say, ‘Yes, please bring me my cereal.’ “
“I work with a team of people that I don’t really know, apart from a few of course. You try to connect. But it’s also a great exercise, and it forces me to think about how we connect with our readers, ”she said. “How do you anticipate what people will need and respond to at that time?”
McCollough thinks this is a great time to mix the game up. “Obviously what’s been going on has been horrible, but at the same time, sometimes it takes a forced change to get things to move to a new place. I’m curious to see how New York is going with this kind of forced change and all this movement that’s going on right now. This city is going to become this very different place.
In fact, after big events like these, big fashion moments have happened, like the post-WWI flappers and the New Look after WWII, Hernandez said. After September 11, a new generation of designers emerged, McCollough added.
Nasr said she hopes this is an opportunity for creatives to come back to New York City, as it is a place for big business.
McCollough remembers that when he first came to New York he felt this energy, but over the years and decades it was lost and it felt like money was pouring into the city, and some people have been deported. Hernandez added that the kids in their twenties have moved to Bushwick in Brooklyn and are doing their thing, and they’re not in Manhattan like they used to be.
“I think this moment calls for a very deliberate awareness of how we’re going to support each other and how we’re going to get through this,” Nasr said. “I don’t think we can take it for granted… We have to support our American designers, we have to be part of everyone coming out of it. These are unprecedented times, there is no roadmap for it. “
While normally they are left alone, Hernandez has said since the onset of COVID-19, they were talking with many international designers and exchanging ideas, zooming in and discussing what worked for them and if they were putting on a show. “We all exchanged notes for the first time,” Hernandez said. “We also had a WhatsApp with all of the American designers,” McCollough added.
Nasr said she started a WhatsApp chat for Black in Fashion, with designers, creatives, makeup artists and photographers around the world, and many initiatives have come out of it.
According to Hernandez, the clothes used to be about the new silhouette, the new color or the new bag. “And now fashion is so much more complex. There is a social component to this. Your brand has to stand for something, ”Hernandez said.
“It’s not enough to have a cute look,” added McCollough.
McCollough said that when he spends his money on things, he wants it to represent something beyond what he’s buying. He always thought that fashion “is only a reflection of the times in which we live”.
“It’s interesting to see him adapt in these moments. It has changed a lot, ”he said.
For example, Hernandez said, there are so many more people and more voices. At first when he started he said the fashion was really closed. Then a new generation arrived.
“I feel like when we started fashion was all about exclusivity. It was like I had this thing you want you can’t have. It’s really changed in a big way, ”McCollough said.
Nasr said it was like a time when doors and things that weren’t available to everyone are now becoming available and the rules are broken, and more and more people are taking their place. table.
Hernandez added as a designer, you can get lost if you are not specific with your point of view and know who you are talking to and who your wife is. In his opinion, when they started, they were everywhere, in the mid-century seam one season and the Hawaiian vibe another season.
But Nasr disagreed respectively. “I feel like I knew who this woman was. I think you had that clarity from the start, and it’s really hard to have.
McCollough said his client has matured because they have matured.
“As more and more designers come out, there’s even more noise,” McCollough said. Previously there were 50 designers and today there are 500-600 designers. “There is more noise than ever. If you don’t have a really clear point of view, you can get lost in a sea of designers, ”McCollough said.
It was the first time they had created the spring collection, they didn’t have a show in mind. “Sometimes we design things for the show that we think will grab people’s attention but maybe not the most wearable. It was really liberating not to think about having a show, ”McCollough said.
Hernandez agreed and said it was a completely different approach, without having to think about hair and makeup. “These are clothes we thought were cool,” he says.
McCollough said he was excited to see Nasr’s first issue of Bazaar in November and his full vision in March.
“I feel some pressure with November. I’ve been overwhelmed and humbled by the outpouring of support, and there’s that element of “what’s she going to do?” As my brother reminded me yesterday, “This is a starting point. Start simple and make sure you believe in everything you put into it. It relieves a lot of pressure, ”said Nasr.
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