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

EDS NOTE: NUDITY - A model walks the runway at the Oscar de la Renta Spring/Summer 2018 fashion show during Fashion Week, Monday, Sept. 11, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Oscar de la Renta designers Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim signal a new era at the storied luxury label with casual garments like denim jackets, windbreakers and outfits emblazoned with their famous founder's handwriting

NEW YORK — The sixth day of New York Fashion Week saw the young designers at Oscar de la Renta take the company in a more casual direction with denim and other relaxed garments not normally seen at the storied luxury label. Carolina Herrera, who showed previously at the Frick Collection, found another stunning venue for her runway show: the Museum of Modern Art. The night before at Prabal Gurung, a notable guest was experiencing her first fashion show at age 83: feminist icon Gloria Steinem.



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 — 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' 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 looked like the stems of black paint brushes.

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



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 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 colors in our world. Politically, socially ... when we have (all colors) 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



Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, the duo behind the Opening Ceremony label, are never content to simply send clothes down a runway. Every Fashion Week, they seem to come up with a new and more unconventional way to display their wares. They've put on an original play (directed by Jonah Hill and Spike Jonze). They've created a wall of oozing chocolate. They've held a celebrity beauty pageant and a martial arts display.

Leon and Lim also clearly love dance, having collaborated several times with the New York City Ballet to dress dancers. So it was probably only a matter of time before they staged their own, original Fashion Week dance piece.

"Changers: A Dance Story," which premiered Sunday night and continues this week at the La Mama Theater, was written and directed by Jonze, a close friend of the designers, and stars the film and TV actors Mia Wasikowska and Lakeith Stanfield, with choreography by Ryan Heffington. It is, roughly, an exploration of monogamy and the struggles people face to keep a relationship going.

Co-starring are the clothes, of course, and at first viewing at least it was a bit difficult to get a real sense of the collection — there didn't seem to be any obvious theme uniting the clothes. But the piece, some 30 minutes long, provided some welcome entertainment after a long, long weekend of fashion shows.

In a newspaper-style program handed out to the audience, Lim and Leon noted that behind every project there are relationships.

"They are sometimes brilliant, sometimes terrifying," they wrote. "But we believe that the best ideas come from them and the sparks they generate."

— Jocelyn Noveck



Carolina Herrera believes that fashion is "art in movement," and so naturally one of her favorite places to show her clothes is in a museum. In the past, she's taken her show to the stunning courtyard at the Frick Collection, and this Fashion Week she secured the sculpture garden at the Museum of Modern Art.

"I've been trying to do it for many years, and at last I could and I am so honored to be here," the designer said before Monday evening's show.

The outdoor courtyard with its bubbling fountains served at the backdrop for Herrera's chic garden party and '80s-inspired collection.

"Being in the garden at the MoMA is one of those moments where, 'is this really happening? Is this real life?' It's so beautiful!" said Disney actress Peyton List, who sat in the front row alongside model Lily Aldridge, actress Michelle Monaghan, and former "Teen Wolf" star Crystal Reed.

"I think this is the first time I've actually seen this garden at night so I'm quite mesmerized by it," Monaghan said.

There was gingham, and lots of puffed sleeves, big shoulders, colorful polka-dots and waists cinched with oversized bows. Sequins reigned supreme.

"This collection is all about color," Herrera said. "Color is very powerful and makes you think in a different way. Color makes you see things in different eyes."

Herrera's signature white blouse also made a runway appearance, this time with a deep V-neck, dramatic sleeves and a gingham wrap skirt.

But the designer eschewed her usual crisp white button-down in favor of a black ensemble.

— Nicole Evatt

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