Signs were all around the Oscar de la Renta spring show indicating that Peter Copping has gotten settled since his arrival at the house last fall, when he was not only new on a big job, but also navigating extremely emotional, hallowed ground. With sensitivity and reverence to his forebear, Copping made his own necessary adjustments and the results were splendid. For starters, he moved the runway out of the showroom to the Prince George Ballroom, where the set had the intimately grand ambience of a couture salon and the convenience of the ground floor — bye-bye elevator crush at 11 West 42nd Street. Copping lobbied to relocate the show to make it more of an event worthy of the house. It was a good decision.
On each seat was a single red carnation, de la Renta’s favorite flower and a significant bloom in Spanish and Latin culture, which were the primary references for Copping’s beautiful collection. He isn’t mounting a radical overhaul. The changes to the venue and the clothes are in the interest of updating and personalizing the point of view at de la Renta while remembering what’s appropriate for the house. Copping based the Spanish and Latin angle on de la Renta’s own roots and researched at one of his favorite museums, the Hispanic Society of America.
Flamenco ruffles, matador jackets, feisty combinations of red and black, tassels and, most importantly, flowers were romanticized to capture traditional passion and femininity with a modern eye. Red was a powerful color, opening the show in a deep shade of ruby on a pair of fil coupé poppy jacquards — one a jacket that closed with a loose black grosgrain ribbon and pencil skirt, the other a structured ruffled cape over a black Chantilly lace tank and slimmer pencil skirt, slit up the thigh with a ruffled waist.
Crimson carnations were the primary print, treated as silhouetted blooms, large-scale and sweetly small against white backgrounds. “We interpreted it in a sort of Warhol way just to make the flowers feel a little bit more modern,” said Copping, who also used ample black to offset the red, as well as seafoam and marigold in strong, sensual combinations. A gorgeous black tulle gown with a high, dramatic lace neckline was embroidered with cascades of red sequin flowers, and the closing gown used loose black grosgrain bows to accent the aqua taffeta. Copping worked with de la Renta’s favorite fabrics, silk faille and taffeta, relaxing weights with nonchalant cuts and slim silhouettes. “We took a lot of underlayers out,” he said. “It’s important that it gets lighter.”
De la Renta’s work was beautiful and relevant until the end; a modernization never felt imperative. Yet Copping’s contemporary touch — the lingerie details and the introduction of tony denim for day — is appreciated. Next season maybe he’ll decide a shorter show feels fresh. All 59 looks were stunners, but beauty has its limits.