Watching the Oscar de la Renta show unfold in the imposing setting of the New York Public Library in Manhattan, it was hard not to think back some 24 hours to a different Oscar: the Academy Awards, and specifically Scarlett Johansson.
Johansson didn’t win either of the two Oscars she’d been up for, but she was one of the clear red-carpet successes in a silvery, shimmery gown with an exposed bodice dripping with metallic fringe — and designed by Oscar de la Renta’s creative duo Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia. The designers displayed that look several times during their runway show Monday night at New York Fashion Week, in both black and gold, and in dresses both long (with a dramatic slit) and very short.
The venue was certainly impressive: a long, arched hallway in the library’s Beaux-Arts main branch on Fifth Avenue. The timing was a bit challenging, edging toward 10 p.m. on a weeknight. But the show featured the impressive workmanship the duo is known for, and because the runway was so narrow, it gave everyone a chance to see that workmanship close up. So close, in fact, that the bigger ballgowns frequently brushed against guests’ legs as the models swished by.
The star attraction was supermodel Bella Hadid, who opened the proceedings in a welcoming, bright blue wool cashmere coat, accompanied by a cashmere turtleneck in burgundy, a silk blouse and wool pants.
But as in any de la Renta show, the early casual looks ceded to intricate and luxurious party wear, and so that jaunty coat had disappeared by Hadid’s second appearance, which naturally closed the show: a flamboyantly feathered, hooded cape in a fuchsia-like hue, with a matching mini dress underneath. The designers brought Hadid out again to join them in their bow at the end.
In between, they displayed a variety of looks centred on a theme that began with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s 1797 poem “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” and also drew inspiration from Truman Capote’s famous black-and-white masquerade ball in 1966. There were references to Caravaggio (especially the flowers) and to Disney’s “Fantasia.” The aim, the designers wrote in their show notes, was “to capture the enchantment of a magical evening and the fleeting feeling of a once-in-a-lifetime occasion.”
In the more contemporary looks, there were casual boots, lots of tie-neck silk blouses and wool pants. Colour combinations were unapologetically bold, as in those bright pink wool pants paired with an equally bright red wool coat.
Flowers were a frequent theme, showing up everywhere from wool coats to blazers to a white knit fisherman-type sweater, which was paired with a ruffled long, pink ballgown-style skirt and thigh-high green boots, in an example of the design duo’s fondness for mixing casual and fancy.
But the fanciest looks were all extravagant luxury, including a shimmering “firework” gown which was just what it sounds like: long and sheer and shimmering with crystals in a firework pattern.