Casual denim hints at a new era for Oscar de la Renta

By on September 11, 2017


The sixth day of New York Fashion Week saw the young designers at Oscar de Renta take the company in a new, more casual direction with denim and other relaxed garments not normally seen at the storied luxury label. (Photo by Maria Eklind/Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)
The sixth day of New York Fashion Week saw the young designers at Oscar de Renta take the company in a new, more casual direction with denim and other relaxed garments not normally seen at the storied luxury label. (Photo by Maria Eklind/Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)

NEW YORK — The sixth day of New York Fashion Week saw the young designers at Oscar de Renta take the company in a new, more casual direction with denim and other relaxed garments not normally seen at the storied luxury label. The night before at Prabal Gurung, a notable guest was experiencing her first fashion show at age 83: feminist icon Gloria Steinem.

DENIM AT OSCAR DE LA RENTA

There was a whiff of change at Oscar de la Renta, where new designers Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim presented a whimsical collection featuring casual garments like midriff-baring denim jackets and roomy windbreakers.

It also was what you would call a “signature” collection — literally. Many of the garments bore the signature, in various forms, of the label’s late, legendary founder, de la Renta himself — either in script, or even in large, sparkly letters spelling out his name. “We’re celebrating him unabashedly,” Garcia said backstage.

The designers noted that the only time until now that de la Renta’s signature appeared on his clothes was on a gown that Sarah Jessica Parker wore to the Met Gala in 2014. It had been the actress’ own idea to embroider his signature on the back.

Garcia added that he and Kim had updated the image of de la Renta’s signature after looking around and finding that “the signatures he actually left behind were much more legible, and true to his handwriting.”

The designers, presenting only their second Fashion Week collection for the label after taking over following the sudden departure of Peter Copping, began their runway show with a series of looks with a “paint splatter” motif.

They were telling a story, they explained, of a woman trying to decide what to paint. Once she paints, she “signs” the canvas.

While dresses and skirts had a paint splatter effect, the theme even extended to the stiletto shoes: The heels actually looked like the stems of black paint brushes, as Kim demonstrated by taking her own pair off to explain.

New techniques used by the label this year included laser-cut leather, Garcia said, along with the denim, part of an effort to expand the clientele and the appeal of the brand.

But there was something for the traditionalists, too: Toward the end of the show came the red carpet-ready gowns that define the brand’s image, like strapless gowns in tulle with full skirts, and even a ruby-dyed mink coat.

Guests at Monday’s show, held at Sotheby’s auction house, included Paris Hilton, Nicky Hilton Rothschild, and Nicki Minaj. They were all getting a double dose of Garcia and Kim, having attended their show on Friday for the duo’s fledgling label, Monse.

— Jocelyn Noveck

GLORIA STEINEM HITS FASHION WEEK

To designer Prabal Gurung’s list of accomplishments, this can now be added: He got Gloria Steinem to her very first fashion show.

The feminist author and activist was a front-row guest at Gurung’s runway show Sunday night, sitting two seats from Huma Abedin, the longtime top Hillary Clinton aide.

Steinem even posted about it on Instagram, saying: “There’s a first time for everything, even at 83.” She added that Gurung was “a kind man doing great work in fashion and beyond.”

Gurung, who bowed his head in salute to Steinem during his own lap down the runway, has long been a vocal supporter of feminism. At his February show, he came out wearing a T-shirt that said, “This Is What a Feminist Looks Like.” His other models wore shirts with slogans like “The Future Is Female” and “Nevertheless, She Persisted.” Gurung said then that he’d been inspired by the women’s march he attended in New York in January.

At Sunday’s show, Gurung said backstage that the title of his collection, “Stronger In Color, When Dreamers Awake,” was both literal and metaphorical.

“Literally the collection is very colorful — it’s spring,” he said. “But more than that, what I wanted to talk about was the colours in our world. Politically, socially … when we have (all colours) represented, that’s when the world becomes an interesting place, a beautiful place to live.”

He noted that the casting of his show was especially diverse this season — ethnically, in size, and in gender. “That’s what the collection is all about,” he said.

Gurung also recalled that he had been inspired by a recent trip to a pearl farm in Japan, where, he said, he had discovered that many of the pearl divers were women.

— Jocelyn Noveck and Nicole Evatt