Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez are the designers behind New York Fashion Week’s hottest ticket, Proenza Schouler. The overwhelmingly positive reception to the duos work has seen the American designers experience a meteoric rise through the fashion ranks since their debut collection in 2002.
Proenza Schouler have proven that it's not only possible but powerful to cultivate an unmistakably high concept, luxury fashion brand and embrace contemporary internet culture at the same time.
Proenza Schouler’s investors include American fashion mogul Andrew Rosen, chief executive of Theory and Helmut Lang, and an investor in several of New York’s most exciting labels. He is part of a consortium that has put between $10 million and $20 million into the business, according to market sources.
The pair met whilst studying at Parsons the New School of Design; unusually they chose to collaborate on their graduate collection, naming it after their mother’s maiden names. The collection, released in 2002, was picked up in its entirety by Barneys New York, the first in a spate of early triumphs. In 2004, the pair were awarded the inaugural CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund; they would go on to win the ceremony’s most prestigious award, womenswear designer of the year, in 2007.
McCollough and Lazaro are famously close and their creative processes are inextricably intertwined. Following each runway show the duo vacation together, and then separately, the one week of the year they claim to be apart from each other. Following their vacations they begin the process of melding their idiosyncratic inspirations. Hernandez told New York Magazine, “One of us might be feeling long when the other one is feeling short. So then we’re just, like, ‘Let’s do both.’ Like, miniskirts with long coats over it. It’s more expensive to have two people ’cause I’m like, ‘I want that dress in white,’ and Jack’s like, ‘No, white’s gross, let’s do it in black.’ And then I say, ‘Oh, we did black last season,’ so then it’s just like, ‘Okay. Let’s sample it in both.’ At the end of the day, we’ll just have to see what’s cuter.”
The designers believe the greater sum of the individual parts is the secret to their success. “It is two worlds coming together. If either of us had gone independently in our own direction without having the other side... it gives it the subversive twist that we love. So the people that don’t get it, that’s fine, and the cool girls do get it, and buy it!” Proenza Schouler’s aesthetic is rooted in their unique and compelling juxtapositions of form, fabric, attitude and style, immediately evocative of the city they design in, and the multi-faceted women that reside within it.
Critical acclaim and rampant commercial success, added to by the addition of accessories and shoes in 2008, have made Proenza Schouler a sure fixture on fashion’s future horizons.