Last year, Laura Kim, one half of Oscar de la Renta’s succeeding creative directorial team, spent her summer in Marrakech. She must have discovered an enlightening synergy while exploring the streets and souks because, in addition to co-director Fernando Garcia’s regular visits to Mumbai, the collections since have found boundless inspiration from the rich tapestries (literally) of both cities.
When Oscar de la Renta began his label in 1965, he designed gowns purposefully for glamorous women who decorated the wealthy social scene. Throughout his lifetime, he became a favourite for actresses on grand red carpets, each with a certain glow about them as they replied, “It’s Oscar”, when donning one of his elegant creations. However, even before his death in 2014, the De la Renta woman had begun an expansion to include an elusive youthful market. Luckily, the Dominican master designer was a champion of young talent and had been guiding the success of both Kim and Garcia since their beginnings. When they were announced as De la Renta’s successors in 2016, it was both a serendipitous and celebrated appointment.
Under pink-tiled archways of a Wes Anderson symmetry, within the opulent encasing of NYC’s Cunard building, the embroidered nature of the garments in today’s collection gently alluded to an interwoven symbolism between the original upmarket De la Renta customer and the new-gen purveyor (who likely watched the show via live stream on Instagram). Kim and Garcia have said that being aware their pieces will inevitably reside in real-time feeds, selfies and viral pictures has had a direct impact on how and what they design.
Whichever platform one viewed today’s collection on, it was clear the team have done another spectacular service to the memory of one of the world’s most loved couturists. If there is a character to create from the pieces that walked today, she would be the exquisite, glamorous leading lady who’s travelled abroad, weaving romantically through the streets of a foreign city. Texture was high here. Gowns of marigold velvet and sheer chiffon were youthfully weighted by oversized coats in intricate jacquards of brocade and damask. An earthy burnt orange cored throughout in the role of neutral while both embroidered knits and printed silks were finished with overhung scarfing and trims of tasselling. Prints leapt between Moroccan and Indian and even to smatterings of Italian of a historical Versace vintage. Particularly dashing was the strapless, geometric column gown in yellow terracotta mosaic lace, while a decorated, silk wrap skirt will most likely be their trendsetter of the season. The injection of new-gen elements by way of bandeau bustiers, ruched bold-shouldered party dresses and brogue flats was a seamless, haute addition, rather than token.
The most anticipated part of the show, a pressure undoubtedly not lost on Kim and Garcia, was, of course, evening-wear. Expectation is high for a design house of this gown-calibre, and bated breath is par for the course from attendees. Fortunately, sighs were that of delight following the emergence of brightly coloured quilted frocks, intricately ruffled Italian brocade and a wild snowy-feathered showstopper. But most audible of all was for Bella Hadid for the show’s finale. A Queen of Hearts strapless ballgown in a jacquard of navy velvet and lace. A look that Mr. De la Renta, himself, could have sketched and created. And if it’s worn by a movie star on the red carpet anytime soon? “It’s Oscar” will be the first words she utters.