It's the Googie Age at Proenza Schouler S/S'12

Zina Tasreen , 29 Sep 2011

Proenza Schouler

Motels, coffee houses, diners, bowling alleys, filling stations in 1950s suburban America: what can be particularly stylish about them? Exactly ‒ zero, zilch, zip. But the designing duo, Jack McCullough and Lazarus Hernandez, behind the New York-based scorching hot label Proenza Scholuler took this questionable-tasted, world-weary make-up and turned it on its head ‒ to deliver a collection that was tastefully vibrant, understandably upscale and wonderfully svelte.

Proenza Schouler S/S'12
Proenza Schouler S/S’12

Emerging car culture and fascination with nuclear power and space flights in 1950s America gave rise to a form of flashy, futuristic building style called Googie architecture, which went on to shape the landscape of suburban, mainly west coast, America of the time. By the mid-1960s it became offensive to people’s aesthetics; and now, it sits in obscurity. It is this lost optimism surrounding the mid-century roadside architectural sub-genre that the duo attempted to breathe new life into through their S/S’12 line. And quite smartly they did: 1950s strict, streamlined silhouettes were modernized with cut-out details, abstract prints and textures, with flashes of yellow and aqua over a drab palette of gray, white, brown and black.

Proenza Schouler S/S'12
Proenza Schouler S/S’12

The collection started off with shapely jackets and shorts in dark brown and black patterns that brought to mind a gaudy 50’s basement with cheap wood paneling (but in a nice way!). Faux- zebra and tiger prints, reminiscent of 1950’s car seat interior, popped up as curving panels in skirts, blouses, jackets and shorts, and as a trim on a cropped white cotton blouse ‒ and instead of looking cheap they came across quite exquisite and elegant!

Proenza Schouler S/S'12
Proenza Schouler S/S’12

Giving nod to the exotic of the west coast, bandeau tops, swimwear-esque bodysuits, tightly woven raffia dresses were sent out, in an island-y palette of coral and chartreuse, which somewhat lifted the mood away from the austere.

Proenza Schouler S/S'12
Proenza Schouler S/S’12

But the collection sprang to life and became special once the glossy, futuristic eel (yep, that slimy fish’s!) skin came into the scene. A striped tank-style sundress slashed to the thigh made with papery eel-skin had the fun, urban edge that the label is known for. Soon came – what could be ‒ the ultimate take on season’s two runaway trends: print and colour-blocking. High-waited, knee-length skirts, made with papery eel-skin, were paired with tulle T-shirts – but the teal/orange colour of the skirts crept into the geometric prints of the T-shirts, so the twosome ended up looking rather stylish than garish… 2-for-1, voilà!

Proenza Schouler - 5
Proenza Schouler S/S’12

And the last two dresses ‒cut out of embroidered tulle into a very of-the-current-moment long-sleeved, belted sheath, it oozed out retro elegance and opulent glamour while remaining chipper and upbeat ‒were quintessentially Googie. Reflection of prosperity, and hence forward-looking ‒ precisely what Googie architecture once stood for.

Proenza Schouler S/S'12
Proenza Schouler S/S’12

For a positively futuristic take on the familiar, this was undoubtedly one of the influential collections to come out of the Spring/Summer 2012 calendar.

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