So, the old man not only made it through another season, he still presented more pieces than any other designer in New York. At 82, Óscar Arístides Ortiz de la Renta Fiallo makes everyone else in the room look lazy by comparison. I mean, seriously, 56 looks in one show? Who does that? Most designers don’t make it to 40 looks! Okay, so he has some help; so does everyone else. No matter which way one chooses to slice this, the old man and his step children are running laps around everyone else in the business.
This season, Oscar takes us on a walk through his garden, and a most beautiful garden it is. Doesn’t hurt that florals are trending high this season, either. I won’t say that was this designer’s idea, but he certainly took advantage of it in a most spectacular way. Roses are his flower of choice, of course, but he treats them much more delicately than others we’ve seen this season.
To start with, we don’t just go tramping through this garden. de la Renta first sets us up with a lovely pink and white check with delicate white lace, a pattern he then repeats in baby blue, as though he were spreading out a picnic from where we might observe his garden. The checks are really much to large to be considered a gingham, but they almost have that country-fied effect to them.
Oscar does some very lovely things with lace and I’m told the contemporary material with which he’s working is quite fantastic in that it is rigid enough to hold up to the rigors of being laser cut, but is still very pliable and even delicate. As a result, we have beautiful pieces that not only wear well but that are capable of lasting much longer without fear of unraveling.
When the collection does begin moving into floral prints, it does so first in a very crisp set of black and white ensembles. My favorite of these is a black cloak with white roses, a very elegant looking piece perfect for the cool nights of a spring evening. He also does some very fun things with fringe and feathers. To some degree, these feel slightly out of character with the rest of the collection, but I guess I look at them more as that moment when a little dog comes running through the gathering looking for a bit of attention. They are quite delightful and they only add smiles to the set.
When we do get to the more colorful pieces, what we find are a larger variety of flowers embroidered onto mesh and sheer overlays, both to quite stunning effect. Large, floral neck pieces finish off the looks and very textured and colorful shoes provide completion.
All the silhouettes are classic de la Renta. While there are some slight modifications for materials, we see bodices that envelope and enhance the figure with skirts that are shapely but never too tight. There are tulips and trumpets and tubes and A-lines scattered throughout, all elements that the designer has used previously. Yet, this is not a trip down memory lane. He puts those silhouettes to work in just the right style and material to produce totally modern and exciting fashion.
Every season I sit here and wonder if this will be the last one for this incredible man. I am always happy to see his name on the schedule and giggle when he insists on Karlie Kloss giving him a kiss at the end of the show. Age be damned, this collection proves that an old man can still compete, and out perform, those more than half his age. Whether its genius, perseverance, or just plain stubbornness that keeps him going, I’m glad Oscar de la Renta has what it takes.
I’m already looking forward to seeing what he brings in February.
Photo credit: Valerio Mezzanotti