Proenza Schouler is Under (de)Construction

by Stephanie Malik

Photos courtesy of Proenza Schouler

After a brief stint abroad showing in Paris for a couple of seasons, Proenza Schouler is back at NYFW presenting their 2019 Fall RTW collection. Once the experimental up-and-comer that used rainbow iguana skin and obscure music from Brooklyn for their shows, this season felt something like the brand deciding to “act like a grown up.” The feeling emanating was something of a restrained deconstruction of their previous playfulness with knits and color. Nothing disastrous, but also nothing really game-changing. The nearly completely neutral chromatics (think black, off-white, camel, navy blue, military green) definitely wasn’t where the action was. Rather the focus was on structure and –in particular- androgynous, loose-fitting suits, mock turtlenecks, and ribbed knits. Fabric-wise Proenza Schouler has definitely jumped on the buff-colored moleskin bandwagon and showed an adept use of leather.

While some publications *cough cough* have called the show “flat” and/or “bumpy” I’m inclined to say Proenza Schouler is taking its first steps toward carving out a niche for themselves between maximalist and minimalist aesthetics. I’m also wondering how much of this collection was something of an experiment for the brand from a marketing perspective. Because let’s be honest, what separates fashion from other artistic disciplines is that it does have to have a certain degree of accessibility and wearability. That is, if the brand wants to survive in an economic climate where it seems you’re either new and experimental or established and iconic.

In sum, it seems Proenza Schouler is doing something like finding their feet as a brand that is no longer the new kid, but also not yet an institution. Personified in my mind they are something like a millennial who has just graduated from college and needs to face the real world facts of finding a sustainable job, but hasn’t yet forfeited their identity or given up on their dreams. Why not both? We remain confident that our beloved Proenza Schouler (one of our favorite brands of all time!) will find their happy medium place without stumbling into mediocrity. Without reducing ourselves to platitudes, this, like all great things, will too take time.