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.
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 — 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.
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 colourful — 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.
Carolina Herrera believes that fashion is “art in movement,” and so naturally one of her favourite 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 honoured 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 mesmerised by it,” Monaghan said.
There was gingham, and lots of puffed sleeves, big shoulders, colourful polka-dots and waists cinched with oversized bows. Sequins reigned supreme.
“This collection is all about colour,” Herrera said. “Colour is very powerful and makes you think in a different way. Colour 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 favour of a black ensemble.
The Phillip Lim woman was a woman in command. The Californian designer of Asian heritage mixed 1990s-inspired minimalist silhouettes with rugby shirts and the Spanish world of flamenco.
“It was like: ok, these are the things I love and here they are,” said Lim. “At times I felt like, ‘Oh my God, how are we going to make this make sense?’”
There were tailored pants, dresses in navy pinstripes, and flamenco’s famous flounces appearing on tops and dresses. “It felt modern to me,” he said.