Fashion today, or a faction of it, at least, is obsessed with reality — clothes for “real life” that reflect changing lifestyles, casualization, diversity, etc. — in the interests of relevancy and sound business. That’s fashion reality.
Then there’s life’s broader reality. Today is September 11th. In the midst of typical New York Fashion Week activity, it was moving to open the show-notes folder at Oscar de la Renta and on one side find an almost-blank sheet of paper with a single sentence printed above a small American flag: “Today we remember those we lost on 9/11 and honor those who rebuilt our city.”
There’s no appropriate transition, so on to the show, which was staged on the roof terrace at Spring Studios. Backstage, Laura Kim noted that as she and Fernando Garcia started mulling their design process for spring, they were also making their summer plans. Usually they travel together, but this time went their separate ways: he, to India, and she, to Como, Italy, Marrakech and Croatia. Upon their returns, they compiled various ideas from their sojourns into a baseline of notice-me ease.
“It’s a very nomadic collection,” Garcia said.
That meant relaxed shapes done up with decorative elements and controlled exotica — fringing, tassels, embroideries and various patterns from florals to geometrics to ikats to an intricately wrought silk print featuring a montage of imagery from their summer stops. Shapes were indeed languid, incorporating such tropes of non-specific “faraway” as sarongs and caftans. There was tailoring, too, delivered with a sportswear attitude — linen blazer over charmeuse top and crochet silk raffia skirt.
Evening factors significantly into the de la Renta lexicon, and the designers worked it here with an evolutionary twist. They want to guide their customers toward relaxed ways to dress at night. Thus, they all but ignored ballgowns, preferring genuine separates — silk ikat bustier over trousers; black asymmetric, fringed jacket over fluid white pants — and long dresses with languid lines, including several slit-to-there goddess beauties.
Day or night, many of the clothes looked appealing, and the designers certainly offered choice. However, in fashion speak “nomadic” often means eclectic, and there’s a fine line between eclectic and unfocused. With a tighter edit and fewer subplots, Kim and Garcia’s would have clarified their overall message.