Usually when designers interpret a concrete inspiration, such as "Cabaret" or "NASCAR", the result is very literal, drop waist dresses or racing jackets, and so very boring. Sometimes designers cite inspirations that seem completely irrelevant, too.
But what Proenza Schouler did here is what Rodarte is usually so good at (but with their Van Gogh collection didn't achieve this time around unfortunately), and that is create a collection that makes you go "of course it's inspired by Googie Architecture! It makes so much sense!", but when you really look at it, you can't find a concrete way in which the two are linked. They aren't clothes that the people who inhabited Googie Architecture would have worn at the time, and they don't resemble the architecture in shape or form. It's much subtler than that, it's a little bit of period dressing and a little bit of architectural elements, but they are combined and abstracted and something quite unique is created.
The most obvious manifestation of the theme was the zebra stripes that wouldn't look out of place on the Flintstones, and I thought they were the least interesting looks anyway. Paired with the zebra stripes was an unusual selection of colours in zig-zag cut-outs that reflect the bright clashing colours and shapes of Googie. I guess here to some degree you could say the looks resemble the buildings themselves.
McCollough and Hernandez explored broader themes associated with Googie Architecture too. The movement was based in L.A., not Hawaii, yet it made complete sense for them to present a series of sophisticated Hawaiian florals in acid colours. It's a perfect interpretation of that time-period's obsession with the Pacific.
Googie is also a past-future, much like the Jetsons or Barbarella, and McCollough and Hernandez are almost mimicking that with their eel-skin skirts. By using this crazy material and dying it crazy colours, it is like they are creating their own false vision for the future - clothes that are wacky and "futuristic" and too much so to ever exist. The same could be said for the faintly ridiculous sunglasses!
The collection also fits nicely under the current "Mid-Century Madness" that is sweeping the fashion and entertainment worlds. Mad Men is just the tip of the iceberg and I've come to the point that anything which values form and function makes me groan. So the fact that I not only tolerated this collection, which is steeped in mid-century design ideals, but also loved it is really saying something.
Runway photos from vogue.com
Mobil Station photo by Julius Shulman
Norms photo by Gary Friedman for The Los Angeles Times