Laura Dern and son front campaign for new gender-neutral fashion line

Leah Dolan, CNN American label Proenza Schouler, the New York-based brand who cast Ella Emhoff

Leah Dolan, CNN

American label Proenza Schouler, the New York-based brand who cast Ella Emhoff in her first runway show earlier this year, has unveiled its latest project: a gender-neutral capsule collection fronted by Laura Dern and her son, musician and model Ellery Harper.

Created in collaboration with Mercedes-Benz, the collection was inspired by the great American road trip, according to Proenza Schouler co-founders and designers Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez.

“(The idea was) a narrative of two people on a journey, and the relationship between mother and child. In many ways it’s a celebration of one of the most important relationships in our own personal lives; the one with our mothers,” said the duo via email to CNN Style.

The clothes are as romantic as they are practical: Floor-length fluttering trench coats and chunky, enveloping knitwear sit side-by-side with open road essentials like bulky weekend totes and recycled cashmere blankets (complete with a matching blanket harness built with picnicking in mind). Gender neutrality felt like a natural choice, the designers noted. “We kept the ready-to-wear roomier and oversized to offer some range in terms of size and shape. It feels like a very ‘now’ approach,” they said.

While the climate crisis has become an increasingly urgent issue, a number of designers and brands are taking steps to incorporate more sustainable practices into their production. For this collection, the designers used deadstock fabrics from the Proenza Schouler archive, along with recycled cashmere re-spun out of old sweaters and natural tanning methods. “We had never done that before,” the designers said of their pivot to eco-conscious tanning, “so we learned a lot through that process.” Currently, the process of dying or tanning leather uses a toxic mixture of acids and chemicals to pickle and stain the animal skin. Once the leather has been colored, the leftover chemical solution can go on to contaminate rivers, soil and food.

“We are always learning, and seeking innovative ways to be more thoughtful with our design methods,” they said. “We’ve been doing research over the last year, but some practices are entirely new for us and we are always striving to keep sustainability at the forefront.”

Mercedes-Benz is no stranger to the fashion world, creating capsule collections with brands like Tommy Hilfiger and Heron Preston. The car manufacturer also currently sponsor more than 40 fashion events in 27 countries, the most recent being Mercedes-Benz Russia Fashion Week which finished October 23.

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Laura Dern and son front campaign for new gender-neutral fashion line