Proenza Schouler Finds Inspiration in Arte Povera

Piero Manzoni, 'Artist's Shit, no. 31,' 1961, ARS/Art Resource

Piero Manzoni

Artist's Shit, no. 31, 1961

Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris

The powerhouse design duo behind Proenza Schouler, Jack McCullough and Lazaro Hernandez, are known to embed an eclectic mix of inspirations into their sophisticated-yet-youthful collections each season, with a special affinity for art. McCullough and Hernandez met while studying at Parsons, when they both turned to fashion design after abandoning their original majors—glassblowing and pre-med, respectively. The two have looked to the imagery of Cy Twombly, Mark Rothko, and Gerhard Richter, among others, melding art and fashion as though they were always meant to be one. The designers admit that they don’t look to fashion for inspiration, but rather to elements of culture that include art, which is especially influential to their custom-made textiles. The 2013 winners of the prestigious CFDA Womenswear Designer of the Year award, the Proenza boys are setting the standard for art-inspired fashion.

In the midst of developing their Spring 2014 collection, McCullough and Hernandez visited the 55th Venice Biennale and were taken by Arte Povera, particularly the works of Piero Manzoni that they encountered at the Prada Foundation’s exhibition, “When Attitudes Become Form”—the recreation of the 1969 exhibition of the same name in Bern, Switzerland. At an Art Talk at the ICA Boston last September, Hernandez elaborated on the inspiration of Manzoni:

We started looking at Manzoni and we were sort of amazed [by his] raw, sort of unsophisticated materials and how he created such sophisticated work that was so groundbreaking...just that dichotomy of using humble, kind of stupid materials that most people just see as trash, and making really beautiful work out of that...was so inspiring, that was what inspired us to create last season.

Manzoni’s influence was particularly evident in collection pieces featuring a wild black and ivory web pattern, and cream-colored ensembles with clean silhouettes and intricate horizontal pleating.

Explore the Art of Fashion Week on Artsy.