The dog days of July were turning into the rabid heat waves of August when Lazaro Hernandez (left), one half of New York–based womenswear and accessories brand Proenza Schouler, began compiling his summer getaway playlist. A week after its completion, the 32-year-old designer flew to a remote cabin on Frank Island, off the coast of Vancouver, which he describes romantically as an oasis of “eagles, whales, and waves.”
His eagerness to escape his studio in the city, where he and his business partner Jack McCollough create their CFDA Award–winning line, was woven into the fabric of his song choices, all of which are worlds apart from the stiletto-stomping anthems that will provide the soundtrack to Proenza Schouler’s Spring 2012 collection this month at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.
While Hernandez appreciates the style of, say, punk prophet Patti Smith, he insists there’s no connection between the rock icons he admires and the clothes he makes. “They’re very different mediums,” he says of fashion and music. “It’s not like we’ve been inspired by someone’s specific look or a particular album cover, but we do love dressing the people we admire. Even that, though, is less about the young, ‘cool’ artists, and more about the older, iconic ones like Yoko Ono and Stevie Nicks.” Hernandez does, however, have his finger on the pulse of young, “cool” artists despite not getting to see many concerts. “I’m definitely not hardcore about catching shows,” he says, before a brief pause. “That’s a lie, actually. I see lots of shows—fashion shows.”
The Beach Boys’ “Lonely Sea.” I can’t even think of a summer playlist without including the Beach Boys, one of the all-time greatest bands. Brian Wilson is my hero. I listened to this song as a little kid and I’ve recently fallen back in love with it. I like the melancholic, lonely feel to this one, which is unlike the hyper-happy songs that they’re sometimes associated with.
The Mayfair Set’s “Dark House.” This has been playing around the studio pretty much nonstop. I guess you could say I’m not all that into party music like the stuff Lady Gaga records. I don’t really listen to the radio, and I’m not so up to speed on popular songs. I’ll be like, What’s that song you’re playing, Jack? And he’ll be like, “Really? You don’t know?” Like that new Beyoncé song everyone’s listening to, the one she took from some Jamaican band. [Ed note: “Run the World (Girls)” samples “Pon de Floor” by Major Lazer, whose members Diplo and Switch both have writing credits on Beyoncé’s song.]
Smith Westerns’ “All Die Young.” This is a great new band whose album I play in its entirety around the clock. I do a lot of internet music searches and one thing leads me to another and another, and then to another. I spend a couple nights a week buying music, which I suppose is a bit too much time spent buying music.
Banjo or Freakout’s “Can’t be Mad for Nothing.” This is one of the newer albums we’ve been playing on a loop. My problem is that I get bored of things really quickly—that’s just my personality—so if I listen to the same album all week I’ll need another one the next.
John Maus’ “Believer.” He puts on a sick live show. You should YouTube him. He looks like a normal guy—he’s a professor at the University of Hawaii [at Manoa], or something really weird like that—but then he transforms into a crazy, spastic performer. He runs around on stage shaking, really feeling it. It’s pretty cool.
The Jesus and Mary Chain’s “The Hardest Walk.” I listened to this one when I was, like, 16 years old. I was a pissed-off kid and a bit of a delinquent because back then I didn’t have many responsibilities. This entire JAMC album, Psychocandy, reminds me of a time when I was free. I was a bad kid, but I’ve cleaned myself up a bit.
The Smiths’ “I Won’t Share You.” Morrissey is like a religion among many of my friends. I had a lot of “firsts” while listening to the Smiths, although some things shall remain private. I’ve never actually met Morrissey but I once met Madonna, which was pretty amazing. I ran into her at the Met Ball back in the day. We were both at the bar, and so I turned around and said something really stupid like, Hi, I wanted to say hi to you. She smiled—she was sweet—and then she walked away. I just stood there, like, Amazing.
Neil Young’s “Out on the Weekend.” This is another escapist track, which is pretty much my vibe these days. Maybe it’s because it’s summer and I want to be anywhere but the city. We have a farm out in Massachusetts where we’ve gone almost every single weekend for a couple of years now. I bring people there all the time to chill and do nothing. This song reminds me of getting away from it all.
Tapper Zukie’s “M.P.L.A.” I’ve been pretty heavy into reggae since I was a kid and Tappa is top dog in my eyes. He informed a lot of newer reggae artists, but he’s this amazing, underground—no, don’t write underground, that’s such a cheesy word—under-the-radar guy who not many people know about. He made real reggae in the ’70s—not like those shitty ’90s pop songs by Shaggy.