NYFW S/S '11 report: Proenza Schouler

16 September 2010

To be honest I'd just about given up on seeing something that was truly contemporary on this season's New York runway. We've had so may trips down fashion's memory lane, the front row had started to feel like a Darby and Joan club.

Then along comes Proenza Schouler and suddenly the future looks bright again. In fifteen minutes that were over far too quickly, they defined a modern elegance that was so relevant, so feminine and woman-friendly, that you could hear the collective sighs of relief. Finally there was an alternative to the 1970s party princess.

It opened with cream and pastel skirt suits in the lightest tweed, styled with delicate chiffon blouses and worn with classic high-heeled court shoes in reptile skins. Blouses were collarless with delicate embroidered details and cuffs that fanned over the hand. A Japanese technique called "shibori" was used to pinch and pucker silk, creating a soft texture that suggested the ease of a stretch fabric but the elegance of something much more tailored. This they used throughout; for simple shifts and straight skirts, investing a womanly classic with girlish freshness and charm. It felt handcrafted but far from folksy.

Reptile skins were a repeating highlight, not only in the shoes but coming out also in a raspberry-coloured collarless alligator coat and an inky-black battle jacket. The icecream colour palette featured apricot, poppy and lilac and then, as if to rescue it from veering too close to anything predictably sedate, there'd be an unexpected pop of lime in a T-shirt under one of those little collarless jackets, or acid yellow shot through a dress fabric.

Demure printed silk shifts with simple A-line skirts were countered with mannish straight-legged pants, styled with chiffon blouses. And a series of silk dresses with gently-puffed cocoon backs were a nod to 1960's Paris couture, but cut in a 21st century silk twill.

It was all perfectly simple and unassumingly glamorous: a world away from the dancing queens and so right for now.   

- Paula Reed in New York


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