Proenza Schouler and The Row: Looks “Easy,” Feels Complex

Easy is the one word you don’t hear thrown around at all during February fashion week, but that can effectively describe every show during September fashion week. But what does it take for clothes to embody a sense of ease? Why does it seemingly work only with warm-weather clothes, but never with winter clothes? Is it as simple as the necessity to layer during this season that obliterates the ease?

The structured confines of a coat?

Pants in general?

I’m not sure. There were tons of coats at The Row. They were long, but they weren’t fussy (although one did contain gold studs on its inner lining). Ditto that for Proenza Schouler; some were shearling, others simple trenches or peacoats. Both collections were a case study in existing through winter without feeling like you’ve tried too hard or let yourself go. (The pro tip from both: you should belt your coats.) At The Row, there were cashmere pants and shirts and a quiet color palette that ran from brown to black to ivory to white to navy and then back to black. Every model wore a pair of shin-length, lace-up combat boots that somehow managed to maintain that refined elegance particular to The Row, even through their whispering clunkiness.

At Proenza Schouler, the clothes were defined by their reliability; you could have plucked them out of an anonymous fashion lineup and identified them from a mile away. Loose-fit, high-waist pants paired with coats that looked deconstructed then reconstructed. Knit dresses with slits across the waist covered in a counter knit. The shoes were either cowboy boots that reaffirmed Raf Simons’ instinct at Calvin Klein earlier this week or summer sandals — a concept that once seemed incredibly ridiculous, but has now presented itself both on and off runway enough times to appear reasonable, even mandatory.

The collections were explicitly different from each other, but both made me feel like I could wear the clothes without emotionally contorting myself; slipping into an identity that so obviously does not belong to me. So what do I make of that? Is it “ease” that they had in common? An ease that is actually characterized by the ability to hold an identity, but not for the purpose of robbing you of yours?

Photos via Vogue Runway.


Leandra M. Cohen

Leandra M. Cohen is the founder of Man Repeller.

More from Archive