Googie architecture. Ever heard of it? Probably not. But you’ve definitely seen it. The roadside architecture that defined the diners, hotels and motels of 1950s Americana was the jumping off point for the hotter than ever Proenza Schouler boys. Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez tackled era-defining kitsch this season and brought it straight into the now with crafty aplomb. The palpable traces were legion – hints of Hanna Barbera, the Jetsons for sure, a bit of Grease, with some Hawaiian/Polynesian influence thrown in for good measure. Where that drab shag carpeting they used on their runway fits in – who knows?
McCollough and Hernandez eased into the showing with a dark and quiet shorts-suit paneled with a brown tiger print that only later felt veritably Yabba Dabba Doo-ish when it came in vibrant yellow on those same suits and on button-up A-line skirts. It got folksy quite quickly with bright yellow florals set against a grainy woodsy print that could’ve come right off a diner’s formica table top. The same effect followed on a harvesty coat-dress that sang ‘Farmer in the Dell’ from the seams. It was so strange it was almost inviting.
The crafty touches that carried their Fall 2011 collection came to play in the Proenza Schouler’s version of a poodle skirt. This was no ice-cream parlor get-up. Their take on it comes in crocheted plastic, woven with large enough perforations to show the hugging bikini bottom underneath. The more old-school they played it, the better their results. Jamie Bochert came out in the collection’s very best look – a geometric sweater in swatches of black, yellow, white and ochre paired with a slightly see-through A-line skirt made up of horizontal ribbons of finely cut suede? Velore? Neither. It was a raffia ombre. To let your beau pin that sweater because you’re his girl – the prison sentence for homicide on lover’s lane would be worth it.
Their most accessible garments, and the ones that the fashion set will certainly be clamoring for within the next few weeks and months, will be those forward-thinking skirts and tops banded in eel skin. The tangerine and blue pieces toward the end of the show were surefire winners, but the glossy blacks in the middle of the parade will be the first to fly off the shelves. Apart from reinventing the poodle skirt, the duo also put their collective touch on the sarong, wrapping and tucking them into high-waisted skirts – the same nip and tuck at times on the correlating tops. And those colorful eel skirts? They came with … wait for it … tulle tees. Nothing kitschy about that.