What's in a font? Everything and nothing, depending on what sort of a person you are. I happen to be the sort that analyses every curve, angle and readability of a letter, despite not being a typography expert (lord knows I've made some font fuck-ups during the lifetime of this blog). Proenza Schouler's new logo, conceived by the brand's first art director Peter Miles definitely has much to analyse. It is more direct and in yer' face. It doesn't look as fussy. It speaks to a younger audience and instills aspiration to buy into Proenza Schouler even if they can't quite afford it. It was high time their logo reflected Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez's gradual change-up into a proper brand, one with specific direction and purpose and has become a trend barometer of where the season is going.
Miles' art direction decision to use found images as branding posters that were dotted around New York in September then neatly coincided with the citing of Tumblr as an inspiration point for their stonkingly brilliant SS13 collection. Tumblr marketing peeps must have been rubbing their hands with glee at the thought of the design duo scrolling through the many mysterious streams of image consciousness that this micro-blogging platform houses. Many critics deduced that McCollough and Hernandez were part of a "digital generation" of designers (is there a phrase more guff-inducing than anything prefixed with "digital"). That seems a tad simplistic. Any designer with an iMac in their studio is likely to be doing bits of inspiration hunting on the internet, such is the way the motion of the Google search has been embedded into our lives. What was really clever about the way McCollough and Hernadez were looking at Tumblr though was to make comment on the randomness of stumbling upon image after image. The way instant juxtapositions are thrown up and they formed the basis for the textural and print-based glitches in the latter half of the show. Together with the brand imagery that Proenza Schouler are now putting out and the Second Life-inspired videos that play in their Madison Avenue store, it's exciting to see a the duo building a brand that is being forged out of the haphazard way we see things in modern life.
The first half of the collection is a clear brand building excercise, which will see the shop rails hanging with technical leather pieces, something that has been a feature in the duo's collections for a while. Blocking python, alligator skin and hole-punched leather are bound together with pink sheared edges and visible stitching. McCollough and Hernandez's occupation with craft always reaches new heights and they pummel a great deal of effort into ensuring that their craftsmenship is sleek, concealed and seemingly effortless. What look like heat sensitive maps are transferred to complex knitwear, again contrasted with that punched leather lest anything was in danger of looking remotely twee. Their abstract prints on chiffon buttoning and unbuttoning up their way into diaphanous dresses were also reworked Proenza Schouler staples.
They could have gone on and on and made a show out of those accomplished pieces but the real statement revealed itself in the first of the photo print pieces. Spliced panels of a beautiful sea view placed on the bias and blocked off against complimentary tones of leather, again with the stitching criss crossing its way across the body. At this point, I think I was going "Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god...!" in my head. No intelligent insight there other than sheer excitement over what was to come. A glitched video freeze frame or a pattern resembling a deranged Google map was turned into the most detailed jacquard I'd ever seen. Then the bias cut splicing continued. Green and dense forests. Crowds of people whose faces were blurred out. A mass of holiday goers by the bluest of pools. They were all jumping out at us in a Flickr cacophony that weren't related to each other. Then McCollough and Hernandez introduced rows of teeny tiny black triangles (meticulously woven into the fabric, rather than printed on), metal rivets gradiating their way from the hem of a dress, clusters of neon pink and orange dots that also gradually peeter out when they reach the midriff. When placed on top of the photos, they read like a highly visual interpretation of graphic pixels on a computer screen. These dresses confronted and passed comment on the digital world that surrounds us. Like their new logo, it was all vibrantly clear, easy to read and very much to the point (a phrase that has really underlined this season). A short and staccato sentence that manages to say a lot.