There were hints of an attitude adjustment from the beginning. The moody pin-striped tailoring and big sable coats with which Oscar de la Renta opened his show felt a little noir. By the time the skunk-fur coat, oversize ivory sweater and black leather skirt walked by, a palpable edge was in the air. The king of uptown polish subverted his own polite genre with somewhat aggressive allure — at least for the first half of the lineup. It was refreshingly unexpected and experimental by de la Renta’s standards.
He stripped down the silhouettes, sharpened up tailoring and opted for a graphic palette of black and white with jolts of blue and crimson, which gave typically dainty, ladylike treatments some bite. A Chantilly lace blouse with black floral guipure appliqué worn with tuxedo pants, for example, was surprisingly seductive. There was a softer, more youthful edge to two beautiful knits: a webby fringed navy-and-ivory merino style worn over a black skirt, and a black-and-white exaggerated loop-stitch cashmere jacket.
The show progressed toward de la Renta’s comfort zone. By evening, it reached a crescendo of glamour with looks of all inclinations, from beaded and fringed columns that were percussion in motion to ballgowns of the grandest scale. Still, the most enduring impression was of a new, more audacious allure.