The Proenza Schouler Boys On the Move in Manhattan

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: If you’re the sort that forgoes the hyper-elitist and punishingly expensive world of high-fashion for $12 cords from Old Navy and those disturbingly ubiquitous Croc shoe-things you may not be immediately familiar with the names Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough. If you are, on the other hand, a card-carrying fashionista or even a wannabe fashionista who subscribes to Visionaire and obsessively watches fashion shows on the You Tube then you well know they’re the sartorial superstars behind the artfully conceived, exuberantly-priced and sick successful Proenza Schouler label.

Mister Hernandez and McCollough, now in their early 30s, met while students at Parsons School of Design where they were nurtured by mincing Project Runway mentor Tim Gunn. Even before they finished fashion school they gained the star-making support of Vogue’s all-powerful editrix Anna Wintour who championed their perfectly tailored and meticulously crafted designs. Since they joined forces in 2002 they’ve earned two hotly coveted CFDA Womenswear Designer of the Year Awards—first in 2007 and again in 2011—and in the last few years have branched out from making perfectly calibrated skirts and dresses to eminently more lucrative lines of handbags and shoes. Your Mama expects they’ll soon push some toilet water on to the market that will dump massive amounts of moolauh into their bank accounts like water over over Victoria Falls.

While they they are business and personal partners who co-own and share a late 19th-century center hall Colonial on 106 rustic acres in the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts that they bought in March 2008 for $1,125,000, property records reveal these honchos of ladies habiliments have owned separate residences in lower Manhattan since at least the mid-Aughts.*

In July 2004 Mister McCollough coughed up $1,250,000 for a dynamite duplex penthouse in the West Village. A few months later, in November 2004, Mister Hernandez followed suit with the purchase of a compact suite of parlor level rooms in a 19th-century townhouse in the heart of the Chelsea that happens to be just a couple blocks from where Your Mama and The Doctor Cooter lived in un-wedded domesticity before we packed up and headed west several years ago and—even more importantly—just around the corner from the dee-voon Billy’s Bakery.

Anyhoo, according to datum easily available online, on the same day in mid-October (2012 Misters Hernandez and Lazaro each put their separate apartments on the market with the same pair of Real Estates. Mister Hernandez’s smaller apartment in Chelsea popped up at $985,000 but within weeks was reduced to its current $950,000 and Mister McCollough’s larger duplex in the West Village was priced at $1,895,000 and is currently in contract.

We’re not quite sure how much Mister Hernandez paid for his fully renovated parlor level apartment (above) but current listing information shows it has just one bedroom and one bathroom plus a den that could be converted to a second bedroom. Your Mama’s rudimentary—and possibly inaccurate—calculations suggest the entire apartment comes in at less than 600 square feet.

Original wood floor run throughout the renovated and restored apartment that also has high ceilings, buff colored walls set against white trim work and moldings, historically correct six-over-six sash windows and an asymmetrically off-center red-brick fireplace in the living room that’s flanked by book-filled built-in bookcases in the living room and a downright puny efficiency kitchen maximized with open shelving and an under-counter refrigerator.

The den/second bedroom opens directly to the rear-facing private terrace and the bedroom—such as it is as just seven feet wide according to the floor plan—has a generous amount of custom fitted wardrobes. The lone bathroom sits like an island in the middle of the apartment and while it does not have a window or even much room to turn around, does have an adequately sized stall shower lined with white subway tiles.

The monochromatic, earth tonecentric day-core mixes classic this and thats—i.e. the fluted column table lamp and the decadent gilt-framed mirror in the living room—with a little mid-century modernity—i.e. the probably pedigreed settee in the den—and strikes a decidedly masculine and simply tailored aspect with a perfectly distressed tufted leather club sofa and a typically toe-curlingly expensive and decoratively trendy shaggy Moroccan Beni Ouarain rug in the living room.

Mister McCollough’s larger, south-facing duplex penthouse atop a fairly nondescript boutique condo building on a leafy cobblestone street in the West Village measures about 1,200 square feet, according to listing information, and looks like it might have been worked over by the same architect who did up the Chelsea apartment of Mister Hernandez.

The two-plus floor penthouse is currently set up as a spacious one bedroom with two windowless bathrooms, a small private terrace and an open-plan office space easily converted to a diminutive, closet-less second bedroom with the simple addition of one wall.

Entry is through an unexpectedly roomy foyer on the lower level. A floating staircase leads up to the main living level and an articulated freestanding partition divides the foyer from the decent-sized bedroom with its elevated wood burning fireplace set into a full wall of floor to ceiling wardrobes. There’s also a wee walk-in closet and a meticulously tailored teak and tumbled Travertine tiled bathroom with open shower space, separate soaking tub and—curiously—an unholy mixture of sleek, silver toned contemporary and Old-Timey antique looking brass-colored fixtures.

Large, nearly floor to ceiling windows flood the south facing open concept living space on the upper level with natural light. The winter white walls and ceiling are counterbalanced by charcoal-colored floors of unknown material and a full wall of teak —or maybe it’s ipe or mahogany or some other exotic wood we’ve never heard of—with an inset fireplace and wood box and a bank of built-in book shelves filled with actual books.

The galley style kitchen has streamlined cabinets painted the same snow white as the walls, matte black slab stone counter tops of unknown material, vintage (or vintage appearing) sink fixturing, full-sized high grade appliances and open shelving. A sculptural staircase set into the rear of the apartment in the office area leads up to a north-facing terrace with over the planter box views to the north.

We don’t know where Misters Lazaro and Hernandez plan to decamp but we’d be shocked if they didn’t—separately or together—move to more grandly proportioned quarters that befit fashion world darlings of their perpetual relevance and growing stature.

*Your Mama has absolutely no idea if Misters Hernandez and McCollough live together or apart in Manhattan, only that property records show they individually own separate apartments.

listing photos and floor plans: Corcoran

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