In 2002, Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez collaborated on their senior thesis project in fashion at the Parsons School of Design. The collection they presented was bought in its entirety by Barneys New York, and the two 20-somethings were thrown straight into the business of fashion. Unbranded at the time of Barneys’ purchase, McCollough and Hernandez decided to call their line Proenza Schouler, after their mothers’ maiden names.
Last week, just in time for their 10th anniversary, Proenza Schouler opened its first flagship store. The shop is located at 822 Madison Avenue in New York’s Upper Crust Side. The choice of location was a little surprising—Proenza Schouler clothes are marked by young bodied proportions and a downtown aesthetic—but not when you look at the price tags. Lazaro Hernandez himself admitted, “the clothes are expensive and the customer is here.”
From the store’s entrance on Madison Avenue, you can see MaxMara, Jil Sander, Dolce & Gabbana, and Cartier. Down the road, you’ve got Gucci and Helmut Lang, Lanvin and Chanel. If you’re stopping by during store hours, you’re also bound to see some of the beautiful and the brittle birds of the UES, the locals, the customer. Visiting yesterday, I watched, in loving awe, a little old lady—the space between her thighs model desirable but certainly long dried up—in a mini skirt suit of thick purple jersey, black sheer stocking, and hot pink high heels, along the lines of Marc Jacobs’ Fall 2012 pilgrim pumps. Her frail ankles shook with each step but she looked fabulous; her slow gait all the better for window shopping.
The Proenza Schouler store is elegant and rough, just like the clothes. It is small, with walls of concrete and potted cacti. Downstairs are the accessories, which consist mostly of different pop colored and textured leather PS1 handbags. Upstairs is ready-to-wear. Pre-Fall 2012 is occupying the racks at the moment. Mixed in with their signature bustiers and tweedy jackets, are jeans and printed t-shirts, which, priced around $280, are just affordable enough for a real downtown girl.