Monse debuted during New York Fashion Week with an intimate show and a high-profile turnout for a brand new line. In the audience were Prabal Gurung, Wes Gordon, Ruth Wilson and a host of top editors, as well as Alex Bolen and Domenico De Sole — who declined to comment on what brought him to see the work of two former members of Oscar de la Renta’s design team — Laura Kim, who was studio director under de la Renta until his death, and Fernando Garcia, a principal designer.
The collection deserved the buzz generated thus far. It was one of the more promising upstarts in recent memory, reflecting the experience Kim and Garcia earned at de la Renta, as well as their own fresh point of view. There was a concrete concept: “It was inspired by boyfriend shirts,” said Kim. “There’s a sexy element to it, there’s an ease, but you’re still comfortable.”
The show opened with a crisp, white cotton poplin off-the-shoulder wrap dress, the shirt sleeves tied artfully around the shoulders with three white gold cufflinks as subtle decoration. It set a tone of modernity, lightness and youthful spirit that carried through the collection, offering vibrant new evening propositions for a wide swath of women.
Shirts were re-imagined in silk faille, duchesse and taffeta (all fabrics favored by de la Renta) in asymmetric cuts that accentuated the shoulders and back. The sleeves were used as nonchalant decorative flourish — tied around the bust, the waist or at the back — that never felt gimmicky.
Instead of a classic ballgown, Kim and Garcia offered a strapless black top, secured around the chest like a giant sash, worn with structured, striped, ultrawide-leg pleated pants. A fluid, platinum satin crepe blouse and matching trousers was an alluring alternative to a languid dress.
To emphasize the collection’s modern motion, gowns, separates and punchy minidresses were all worn with flats. These are clothes that will make women look and feel good. Oscar would be proud.