Design Duo Behind Proenza Schouler Look to Robert Morris and Helen Frankenthaler for Fall Collection

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Robert Morris, Untitled (2010).
Photo: Sonnabend Gallery.
Robert Morris, Untitled (Version 1 in 19 Parts) (1968/2002).
Photo: © Robert Morris/ ARS
Robert Morris, Untitled (1970).

Fashion week has wrapped and until Thursday night, nothing had really caught our eye. Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough’s Proenza Schouler fall 2015 presentation at the Breuer building (the Whitney Museum’s old stomping ground) was a real show stopper—experimentally speaking.

Referencing the abstract expressionist painter Helen Frankenthaler and minimalist sculptor Robert Morris as sources of inspiration, it’s no wonder their clothes had everyone snap happy on Instagram. Thanks to Hernandez and McCollough, art has definitely filled at least one runway at New York Fashion week (see Will Art Fill the Runways at New York Fashion Week?) According to, the design duo were able to secure the venue in the mayhem of fashion week because of “friends of friends of friends.”

Hernandez and McCollough, known for their innovation in fabric and pattern-making, have been sweethearts of the fashion crowd since earning their stripes when Barney’s New York bought their entire senior thesis collection straight out of Parsons School of Design. In the past, their collections have been inspired by art (their fall 2014 offerings were born from seeing ceramist Ron Nagle’s work at the Venice Biennale), and for this season they took some Morris’s cavernous and curvaceous hanging wall pieces and translated them into nouveau trench coats and cut-out midi dresses.

McCollough told after their show, “We looked at Robert Morris, specifically his later works, his felt pieces which he hung on his walls, he cut and slashed things, he left them raw and undone, and he let them hang how they wanted to hang. So we started treating our fittings that way, adding panels, slashing into them, slashing into all the seams to create big vents.”

Other jackets they sent down the runway clearly bore the imprint of Frankenthaler’s diluted and fluid shapes seen in her paintings. Hernandez said “We like the way she [Frankenthaler] painted. She thinned out paint and poured it on canvas, there was no preconceived idea as to what the outcome was going to be. That was inspiring on a conceptual level for us—not having an idea, just developing fabrics, trims, and shapes, just playing and not having a goal at the end.”

The duo also looked to photographs of art openings from the late 1940s, which inspired the impressively beaded furry mohawk frocks debuted in black, red, and white.

Although the looks on the catwalk are stunning, according to artnet’s Price Database, you could probably purchase a small Morris work or a Frankenthaler lithograph for the price of one dress or jacket. Hm, opportunity cost.

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