Proenza Schouler’s spring 2024 show brought guests uptown to the Phillips auction house for a collection that re-evaluated the concept of art as fashion. “We’re talking about art and commerce—and where’s that line for us?” Jack McCollough, one-half of the Proenza duo with Lazaro Hernandez, stated backstage after the presentation. The idea of putting on a fashion show inside one of the city’s most well-known art auction houses was fully intentional—“like a metaphor itself,” according to the designers. “That’s where art comes to be judged on its commercial viability.”
The collection opened with the oversized, polished suiting that has become a signature of the brand, before diverting to lightweight dresses in shades of beige that had a unique sort of sculpting and weightiness to them. “I think it’s the first season where people are coming into the showroom and looking at the clothes and they’re like, ‘this is so light,’” said McCollough. “Some of the dresses just weigh nothing.” Of course, all the staples that the label’s most faithful fans crave were there too, like button-down shirts, wide-leg trousers, and easy-to-wear dresses with elements of draping, pleating, and ruching.
The lighter side of Proenza Schouler peeked through white denim and sheer sweaters. But the clothing as art allusion really came through in the bevy of heavily textured pieces. Most notable: the stunning skirt and dress covered in a sea of jagged crystalline sequins that made a loud swishing noise as it went down the runway. Bags, like sculptural works of art, were decked out in plumes of feathers that brightened up some otherwise commercial staples. Elsewhere, modular, flat waist bags were styled around belt loops.
A bit of a play on styling through design was present, too. Faux waistbands peeked out of other waistbands, sheer bags displayed little leather cardholders inside, and some sleeveless dresses had the arms of an imaginary sweater draped around the collars (a really smart trompe l’œil). “We’re art school kids,” added Hernandez. “We’re very experimental and wild, and that’s our soul. Now we’re grown up and we sell clothes. It’s about making real clothes—with a soul of artfulness and value and heart—for real people.”