Everyone loves an award ceremony, especially when the honorees are big in popular culture. Take the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, even though they only honor their own with the Academy Awards, the world watches a three- plus hour long television production to see who will walk away with an Oscar statuette. Although on a slightly smaller scale, the same goes for the Council of Fashion Designers of America, Inc. (CFDA). The CFDA honors those who make exceptional contributions to American fashion and although it’s not aired, the council has a large following of people anticipating and eager to discover who will be named Womenswear Designer of the Year, among others.
The CFDA, a foundation which was created in 1962, is a not-for-profit organization which supports the American fashion industry by offering scholarships and nurturing professional development within fashion and its arts. The fashion awards ceremony recognizes those who are among the best in the industry and while many of the nominees are well known, some are rising stars. This year’s Womenswear nominations include previous winner, Marc Jacobs, who will also be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award, and Alexander Wang, both of whom are big names in American fashion and culture. However, the list also includes lesser known, Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez for Proenza Schouler. While the nomination isn’t completely out of left field, as Proenza Schouler has been nominated twice for and won Accessory Designer of the Year in 2009, their nomination this year (whether they win or not) brings their women’s clothing designs to the forefront and puts them in the same category as many other successful designers such as Ralph Lauren, Oscar de la Renta, Donna Karen and many more.
Proenza Schouler, named for the two men’s mothers, was created in 2002 after McCollough and Hernandez met while in school at Parsons. The two collaborated on their senior project which was bought in whole by Barney’s New York. While it doesn’t hurt that both men are vitally handsome, their success, however, comes from the fact that they are truly talented and produce impeccable clothing which women of varying ages long to don. While often described as youthful, cool and hip, their luxurious designs are excellently tailored and their collections regularly feature structured corsets and fitted pencil skirts. This look may sound severe, but the end result is much more delicate and feminine without losing any of its sexuality.
As many collaborations go, each designer will have their own ideas and points of inspiration, so when it comes to Proenza Schouler it is truly a melting pot of both McCollough’s and Hernandez’s designs, creating something that one person alone could not. The duo often gathers their inspirations when taking a holiday after completing a show and the clothing will reflect the culture they visited while vacationing. The Fall 2011 Ready-to-Wear collection came from what they saw on their Santa Fe trip. The Native American colors and textiles are transformed and made into clothing that shows its point of inspiration. But the inspirations are only that and are eventually adopted and made into something completely unique, a skill that the CFDA will certainly take into account when naming the 2011 Womenswear Designer of the Year on Monday, June 6.
—Bonnie J Brown