Remember when Oscar de la Renta turned philanderer and was courting young babes with runway looks that veered toward ingénue? Well, silly young things: Out of the way, because Oscar’s going home to mama. He announced the end of — or more likely, a respite from — his wandering ways by doing his models up with refined makeup and Judy Peabody hair. They wore clothes that should keep de la Renta’s core ladies — the ones who might just still have a few bucks to spend — enthralled, and if their range made for a bit of a hodgepodge, at least the gals will have plenty of choice.


Which is not to say de la Renta offered no direction. Indeed, his credo to the faithful: Dress up, a message flagged by the first look out — a black wool dress, its discretion succumbed to the fluff of skunk in scarf and mittens, with just a soupçon of Cruella de Vil. What followed was all polish. While de la Renta didn’t ignore the suit, showing a lovely gray wool tweed and a pants version in shiny aubergine silk-and-wool, he preferred dresses and skirt looks, often delivering a racy touch via his favorite add-on: a vest, in feathered sable, lynx-spotted silk or quilted broadtail. On a calmer note, he showed some wonderful richly textured cashmere cardigans over skirts.


When it came to evening, de la Renta was relatively restrained, which was a problem with a few half-hearted party poufs. However, he ignored the recession to end on a high note — two major crinoline ballgowns to take your breath away. And if anyone can charm a gal breathless, it’s you-know-who.

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