Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia are having the kind of year that fashion school day dreams are made of. It may have seemed like they came out of nowhere last spring, when they launched Monse to fantastic acclaim, but their very young brand has reaped the lessons of the designers’ decade-plus career spent behind the scenes in Oscar de la Renta’s atelier, where they were welcomed back as creative directors last month. Part of that deal is a strategic partnership between ODLR and Monse. Let’s hope the smaller, newer collection doesn’t fall by the wayside, because, as the spring show proved, it’s adding something very valuable to New York fashion.
That would be energy, momentum, a fresh point of view that’s refined but hasn’t gone through the big-box processing that often flattens the kinks that made the collection interesting in the first place. “I feel like we’re really defining who are are,” said Kim backstage. “The first collection still had the feeling of what we’re doing at Oscar.” Now that the first two seasons have hit retail, she and Garcia have been able to see what’s gelling with the customer, who Kim said is taking a pass on the commercial in favor of riskier pieces.
Kim and Garcia ran with that feedback for the show, escalating their reworked men’s shirt and trench premise with a wayward Wall Streeter vibe. “We started with boring pinstripe suits and white shirts,” said Kim, who slashed the shirts into shoulder-baring states of undress, cut suiting pieces high-waisted, and deconstructed pants and skirts. The girls wore piles of silver Tag Heuer watches (a sponsor) and septum rings.
Men’s wear was the anchor, but the silhouettes highlighted female assets. They spliced together solid and striped shirts and khaki cargos and pinstripe pants in cropped, wide-legged proportions, then segued into the messy glamour of knits and gowns dripping with sequins. Eveningwear is an interesting category right now, with the conceptions of cocktail and black-tie being redefined on a wide spectrum. A tulle bodysuit dipped in black sequins worn with a folded silk scarf skirt was a modern take on traditional razzle dazzle, while a more casual navy-and-red striped long shirt, that folded off the shoulder and was worn over silk cropped cargo pants, checked all the boxes for a cool girl’s idea of cocktail.