Proenza Schouler began after Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez met in Parsons’ BFA Fashion Design program and set out to create a joint thesis collection, which they named after their mothers. Since then, the duo has consistently produced some of the world’s most sought-after collections, critically and commercially successful for their cutting-edge yet wearable womenswear.
Immediately after presenting their senior thesis in 2002, McCollough and Hernandez sold their entire collection to luxury department store Barneys. McCollough and Hernandez debuted the Proenza Schouler brand commercially in their first runway collection in 2003, which critics described as “chic, sophisticated, and new” basic wardrobe staples transformed into luxury fashion. Since then, McCollough and Hernandez have become known for their directional approach to fashion, which is inspired by contemporary art and culture and often involves collaborations with artists and filmmakers on avant-garde advertising campaigns and editorials.
In addition to winning Parsons’ Designer of the Year award for their senior work, McCollough and Hernandez received the Swarovski/Perry Ellis Award for Ready-to-Wear and the Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation Award in 2003. In 2004, the designers won the first-ever prize awarded by the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. For their innovative use of fabrics and tailoring techniques, Proenza Schouler also won the 2009 Accessory Designer of the Year award and the Womenswear Designer of the Year award in 2007, 2011, and 2013.
With its first store on Madison Avenue and a flagship location on Greene Street in Soho, the brand is rooted in and influenced by New York City’s diverse cultural landscape.
The designers frequently return to Parsons as guest speakers, critics, and honorees of Parsons’ annual benefit. McCollough and Hernandez are been featured perennially in exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and in 2014 were the subjects of a solo show at Le Bon Marché in Paris.