Had this been a normal season, an Ella Emhoff sighting on Proenza Schouler’s runway would’ve been the talk of the shows. Vice President Kamala Harris’s step daughter was signed by IMG Models not long after the Inauguration, and this cameo appearance is her New York Fashion Week coming out. Of course, this isn’t a remotely normal season. Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez filmed their collection video two Sundays ago in Water Mill. There’s no backstage access, no street style snapshot of Emhoff hopping a snow bank as she heads into a Chelsea gallery show venue.
After producing a hardbound book for spring ’21, McCollough and Hernandez have turned the page. They special-built a website to showcase their fall lineup; the video plays at the top, and below it is a grid of looks, each one with multiple views. It will link to a pre-order section on their e-commerce site, the real-time feedback of which should prove useful; that’s one benefit of going digital, at least.
Unbelievably, McCollough and Hernandez are a year shy of their 20th anniversary; it was 2002 when Barneys bought their Parsons graduate collection. Though they haven’t lost touch with their cool kid bona fides—were they the same generation, they’d run with Ella Emhoff’s crew—they’re the old hands on the calendar this week, with many establishment brands showing later in the season. That’s an unexpected situation.
Maybe not coincidentally, they were talking a lot about balance on a Zoom call: balancing the work-from-home moment we’re currently in with the optimism they feel sure is coming; balancing softness with structure, and minimalism with a more crafted aesthetic. The result is a collection that feels of a piece with their recent work, only subtler. They still favor an earthy palette and they continue to work their repertoire of lean, confident pant suits and fluid midi dresses, a particularly striking one in chartreuse and brown tie-dye. But where a year ago, jackets and dresses were tugged off shoulders, this season that “attitude,” as they called it, was built into their patterns, be it a spongy knit dress with an askew head hole or a top with a swooping asymmetrical hem. The former snaked around the body, while the latter had a buoyant sculptural volume. Clothes that work harder while also being easier to wear—that’s another COVID-time development, maybe one of the best ones.