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First, We Bought an Art Book

The Proenza Schouler boys reconstruct the birth of their spring collection, from a book found in L.A. to a Japanese kimono, by way of Karen Blixen.


Nearing the end: McCollough, kneeling, fits a kimono-inspired dress while Hernandez, right, gives it some thought.  

How does a collection come together? How do a 1940s Christian Dior silhouette, Meryl Streep as Karen Blixen, stripey artwork by Louise Bourgeois, and an old Japanese fisherman kimono find their way into the blender that is two designers’ brains and come out as a cohesive, chic, wearable collection that will sell itself off a hanger? For Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough of Proenza Schouler, the process is anything but linear. Inspiration comes from travel, movies, books, and trips to the New York Public Library. But they’re also sensitive to their own psychology; this spring, the double whammy of being almost 30 and having a new corporate parent (Valentino bought 45 percent of their business this year) was present in every decision.

Hernandez: Our collections always happen from a personal place, what we’re feeling. We take that and try to give it form and shape. I guess the idea behind this collection—the way we’re feeling—was that we’re at the crossroads between being adults and kind of being kids. Our friends still want to go out and have fun, and we have a company to run. And there’s something in that feeling we bring to this collection. It’s the contrast between those two worlds, and how does that translate on a more aesthetic level.

McCollough: We’re both 29 now. But you can write 28.

Hernandez: I guess this is the age where your life takes a larger turn, you kind of grow up. So how do you make that into a visual thing?

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