Fifteen years after Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough launched their debut collection, the story of Proenza Schouler is practically fashion cannon at this point. The Cliff notes: the designing duo met at Parsons School of Design, where they came together to collaborate on a senior thesis—a collection named after their mother's maiden names, Proenza and Schouler—which was subsequently bought in entirety by Barneys New York. Flash forward a decade later, and the label is beloved by both the cool, downtown set—many of whom also happen to be close friends of the designers—and old-school fashion editors alike. Rather than resting on their very comfortable laurels—among them, five CFDA Awards—the pair churns out innovative and, yes, cool designs season after season. Most recently, the brand led the charge of New York designers relocating to Paris, where they showed their Spring 2018 collection during Paris Haute Couture week in July. Here, Hernandez and McCollough talk their first trip to Paris, which designers they admire, and first kisses.
In your profession as designers, who is Royal to you?
Lazaro Hernandez: In a fashion context, for us Christian Dior is someone we've looked at since the very, very beginning. We study his collections. Every single season we sort of know all of them like the back of our hand. For me, [the most inspiring is] the last collection, around 1957, when he started doing the shimmy stuff. That was really revolutionary. I thought it was really cool how in '47 he introduced like the waist, and then in 1957 before he died it was like the total liberation of the waist. You see that whole thing happen in those ten years that he worked. You see the silhouette just becoming a bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger.
Jack McCollough: Helmut Lang. When I was getting into fashion as a teenager, he was one of kind of the first working designers that made a huge impression on me. He's definitely up there on the list. He's inspiring on so many levels including the fact that he just kind of peaced out at the height of his career and the starting a whole new chapter two, which is intriguing on many levels. I think he's played his cards right.
L.H.: And Rei Kawakubo.
J.M.: I love the Comme des Garçons wedding collection. That was, was that the one with the newspaper on the head? Genius.
L.H.: Depending what work we're kind of into in the moment, you're kind of attracted to one collection more than the other, and then it kind of rotates depending on where your head is at that time.
Did you see the show at the Costume Institute at the Met Gala?
L.H.: You know, we went to the Met, but we did not see this show because we got there super late because of our day.
J.M.: We got there late. We got there after dinner had already started actually.
You showed in Paris this season. When was the first time you ever visited the city?
L.H.: The first time I went to Paris was when we graduated from Parsons right? We did a little pilgrimage out there to go visit Chanel and Dior, and all those old ateliers. We were just standing outside of them. We went to go see the balcony where Saint Laurent came out for her first Dior show. We kind of just did all the sites of like fashion history. It was so dorky. We're such nerds.
J.M.: I think it was our sophomore year. We were 18 and clueless.
L.H.: Impressionable at that age.
Do you remember what you guys wore in high school? What was your high school look?
J.M.: I was like a dirty hippie. Hair down to here. Dropped out of high school and went on tour with the [Grateful] Dead for a while. You were a different vibe. You were kind of preppy right? I've seen pictures. He was a little more jocky.
L.H.: I wasn't jocky. I was in Miami, it was a different thing. It was more like a Nirvana vibe. It was kind of grunge in the 90s. And then the 80s, I was definitely more...
L.H.: But I was also like five.
Do you have any secret talents?
J.M.: I'm a good cook. I cook a lot. I'm really into exploring recipes. I'm not really good at grabbing ingredients and throwing something together from nothing yet. I've got to work on that scale still.
L.H.: I'm quite like outdoorsy. I like to get dirty outdoors. I like to move around rocks, and dig weeds, and cut down trees. I like to get outdoors and get dirty. And organize. I like to organize.
Do you sing in the shower?
J.M.: I do. I was singing "Requiem" in the shower the other day. It was a little opera moment. But I just don't even know the words. I'm just humming to the melody. I obviously sound horrible.
L.H.: It's alright. I woke up with "The Macarena," in my head,this morning. I was singing it to Jack this morning.
J.M.: You wake up with a lot of annoying songs in your head in the morning. You're like, "Oh, I woke up with the most annoying song in my head, do you want to hear it?" And then he sings it and it gets stuck in my head and passes it along to me.
L.H.: That's why I do it.
Where was your first ever kiss?
J.M.: Mine was in my best friend's basement, and I was probably nine. I thought it was disgusting. I went in the bathroom afterwards and rinse my mouth out. I was really grossed out by the whole thing.
L.H.: Mine was when I was in fifth grade. It was me and a few friends. We all made out with her in the back of a movie theater. We all took turns. She was racy. I was into it. She was cute. She was wearing heels I remember. She was the sixth grader. Just a little bit older, a little bit more experienced.
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