Proenza Schouler Fall Winter 2012 Ready-to-Wear Collection

The first look out at Proenza Schouler couldn’t have been more different from anything Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez presented last season. A stark white oversized sturdy cotton jacket with a scalloped hem and an asymmetric zip looked like a piece you’d come to expect from a Rick Owens, or the couturier Bouchra Jarrar. The blanched, wrapped up, but not bandied looks that opened the show saw Proenza Schouler in a dialogue with some of their New York contemporaries, Alexander Wang most notably, who also touched upon protection in his own way. The duo went more literal – by way of wares typical to the Asian martial arts.

It was slightly jolting after such a stark intro to see a black slouchy collared shirt (with a playful cat-ear breast pocket) that had that same relaxed fit of last Fall’s sensational dress shirts, worn above a wrap skirt made of red, black and silver woven and braided leather. Suddenly, their not so high-brow cool factor was back into play. When a monochromatic black leather ensemble under a hammered and bonded leather pea-coat soon followed, it felt like McCollough and Hernandez were going back to their most deeply rooted street-ready beginnings. It all certainly felt aimed at a younger customer than their ideal Spring client. It was just as craftily considered, but not as elegant per se.

By the time the black and cobalt woven and braided leather moto jackets with matching portfolio skirts hit the runway, a sudden, strange sense of Déjà vu settled in. From color palette to silhouette – it was Balenciaga Spring 2011 that had crept in and was hard to shake off once it had. But the technical prowess the duo employed here was seriously impressive, all comparisons aside. A cobalt woven square panel hung to a black long-sleeve shantung top by two gold zips along each collar bone. It’s an effect Maison Martin Margiela has attempted in the past, but Proenza Schouler pulls it off with the aplomb of a master couturier. A blue cropped karate gi ensemble on Elsa Sylvan was made of those same quilted, sturdy fabrics from their Pre-Fall line-up, a sign that their Himalayan exploration for the intermediary season was only one half of a complete Asian-inspired story the duo meant to tell.

The coup d’état were the quilted satin baseball jackets (high fashion’s most recent outerwear to subvert fixation) and the cocktail dresses embroidered with brocades of peacocks and pheasants. The incredible hand-woven pailette skirts, imbued in metallic gold, red and black, respectively, were even more entrancing than their crafty leather cousins a few looks back. The antelope fur clutches and medicine bags drove it all into fashion euphoria overload.