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Proenza Schouler’s Road To Success

The story of how two Parsons graduates became the kings of New York

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For most people, the words “10-year reunion” are enough to send them into a panic, but for the boys behind Proenza Schouler, the post-college decade mark means a chance to bask in their prodigious accomplishments: a newly opened flagship on Madison Avenue, a growing trove of CFDA Awards and a cadre of PYT fans, like Kate Bosworth and Rihanna. When Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez showed their thesis collection before graduating from Parsons design school 10 years ago, they never imagined the kind of success it would beget. “We had no idea what was to come or the level of attention that followed shortly thereafter,” McCollough says. “As students, we would always dream, of course, but having our own company wasnt talked about much,” Hernandez adds. “It really just sort of happened.” That’s in no small part thanks to Julie Gilhart, who was the fashion director of Barneys New York in 2003 and purchased the entire collection on first sight. “When they were so young, their work changed the game,” she says. “I remember being surprised at the complete organization of the thesis presentation and the way they expressed their thoughts on the collection. It captivated me.” And 10 years haven’t done much to diminish their youthful glow. Despite 20-plus collections, they’re still widely referred to as wunderkinds in the press. But perhaps even more tellingly, Gilhart still has—and wears—a metallic tank from that debut collection.