Proenza Schouler: Ruffle some feathers!
Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez have advised young designers to "p**s some people off".
The duo met at Parson's The New School for Design in New York City and went on to form Proenza Schouler. They've opened up about what it takes to make a label successful, explaining the key is to go with your gut.
"It’s always good to p**s some people off; our teachers at [Parson's] hated us," Lazaro said at the French Institute Alliance Française in conversation with Vogue’s Sally Singer. "They were like, 'You guys have to stop making clothes for art girls. Make some easy separates.' We were like, 'What? No!' That spirit has stayed with us to this day. You can’t cater to every single person. You have to do what makes you feel happy."
The pair also want up-and-coming designers to understand how hard working in the business can be. Fashion Week season has grown immensely and there are more collections than ever before, as well as new brands cropping up all the time. It means fashion is a highly competitive business, so if hopefuls aren't really sure about what they want to achieve, they will likely fail.
"There are so many people, so many brands now, and so much noise. I think if you don’t have a clear vision and a voice - and you have to make sure it’s not stepping on anyone else’s voice - it’s a hard line to stay on. You’ve really got to have something you’re saying or it’s going to be hard to stick out and get people interested," Jack explained.
The design duo have been approached about becoming creative directors at other labels too. While many go down this route - Karl Lagerfeld famously works for Chanel, Fendi and his own brand - Jack and Lazaro are too busy with their line to consider it.
Part of that is ensuring the Proenza Schouler woman is clear to them. From the beginning she's always been interested in couture, which, when they started out, wasn't the big thing. Designers were more about deconstruction, but the pair wanted to do something fresh.
"We were interested in mid-century French couture, but we’re kids of the Nineties, too… Kurt Cobain and the grunge generation. It’s like this mash-up of grunge and things that felt oversize and messy, mixed with extreme elegance and a couture sensibility. That still applies," Lazaro said.
Designing together isn't all fun and games though, with the duo admitting they argue sometimes. It's usually over small things like the shade of a colour to use and they soon work it out.
Things work so well because the pair are good friends. They recently went to Cuba together, which is where Lazaro's family are from.
"I met the Proenzas [his mother's maiden name]. All the Proenzas are still in Cuba. I met the oldest living Proenza and I tried to tell him what I do, and he was like, 'Is that like Zara?' I was like, 'How do you know what that even is?… And no,'" he laughed.