Meet Oscar, the iconoclast. While several other of New York’s majors are readying for fall in the neutral zone (Donna and Vera, with moody black; Marc and Michael, snappy grays and camels), Oscar de la Renta just said no. No to quiet. No to understated. A most definite no to neutral. And yes! yes! yes! to vibrant color.
The collection de la Renta showed on Wednesday made for a pitch-perfect counterpoint to the season’s prevailing chic neutrality, and no doubt left those who longed for some literal bright spots absolutely gleeful. The designer filled his runway with blues, olives, emeralds, golds and what seemed like 100 different reds, often in daring combinations, as in two coats, one in red with a fluffy purple collar, the other, its opposite. It made for buoyant viewing.
Where de la Renta was in complete sync with his New York colleagues was in his embrace of overt opulence, starting with his yen for fur. Almost every coat got the treatment somewhere, whether astrakhan, fisher or chinchilla. Among the best: a double-breasted cinnamon alpaca with cross fox at the hem. Even more flamboyant was the graphic black-and-white number double-bordered in black fox and a thick band of red sequins. The obsession moved into evening, though with more egalitarian leanings; a stole was as likely to be made of rabbit as silver fox.
The visual exuberance extended to de la Renta’s suits and dresses as well, the former plays of structured jackets against softer skirts, the latter focused on chic, lean dresses, although he did work in some full-skirted frocks for the coquette set. Evening, too, was joyful and diverse. With its white rabbit stole perched off to one side, an emerald bustier cocktail number winked charmingly toward Jessica Rabbit. But the real stunner was a fabulous magenta ballgown over a black petticoat. It has a trace of Nouvelle Society nostalgia and a whole lot of style.