If there is a godfather of American fashion, it is Oscar de la Renta. Born in 1932, the man known as the “Sultan of Suave, ” and “Guru of Glamour” has not only refused to give up control of his eponymous label, but has stayed an active, vital part of American fashion. If anyone has earned the right to sit back and recapitulate revisions of his greatest hits, it is de la Renta, and he would have plenty of material with which to do so. He could easily spend the next ten years doing nothing but retrospectives and still come off just as fresh and new as ever. Yet, he chooses to not do that. Instead, he works with his team to create a whole set of new looks every season.
This season, expect to hear talk about delightfully tailored pinstripe suits, especially the pieces with embroidered details. Every last one of these pieces are designed with command of the board room in mind. That attitude then carries over to sets tops with cashmere ponchos wrapped and belted in unique fashion, and cable knit sweaters that are anything but casual.
De la Renta doesn’t stay tied to basic fabrics, though. He experiments with hole-punched mesh, rubber-coated covers, and laser-cut lace with absolutely gorgeous results, proving that one can be just as glamorous and as beautiful working with new fabrics as well as old.
Already, I’m seeing a lot of comments in social media about the red velvet dress and coat that came in the middle of the show. The deep plunging neckline and slit skirt are evidence that Oscar’s not afraid to be sexy. When he adds leather to some of his red lace looks, he gives the sensual looks a hint of toughness, but does so in such a way as to keep the elegance of the ensemble.
This is a large collection by anyone’s standards, and along the way are delightful prints and daring sheers. Oscar has always known what his audience wants and demonstrates very clearly that he hasn’t lost touch with contemporary dress desires.
Where de la Renta really shines, though, is with his gowns, which have been gracing Hollywood red carpets almost as long as I’ve been alive (Oscar came to New York when I was three and had gowns in Hollywood by the time I was six). There are beads and fur, classic and contemporary, velvet designs over sheer skirts, and more long trains than in a rail yard. Each one of these gowns is museum worthy, works of art all their own. Anyone fortunate enough to wear one should consider themselves extremely fortunate.
At the end of the show, I found myself choking back a tear as the designer stepped carefully to the edge of the runway and waved as model Karlie Kloss leaned over and gave him a kiss. How much longer will we be graced with the genius of this kind man? Each season he gives us is a wonderful gift. So, let us enjoy this season’s collection and hope beyond hope that there are more.