“My grand-ma and your grand-ma were sit-tin’ by the fire…” Usually, when the drumbeat for “Iko, Iko” starts playing, toes start tapping. It’s infectious. But at the Oscar de la Renta show Wednesday night, people didn’t seem to be feeling it.
With three years at the house, designers Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim have worked hard to master the right balance of reverence and reinvention, and some seasons they have succeeded better than others. And some seasons, it feels like they forget to have fun!
“We homed in on being unabashedly Latin,” said Garcia of the high-low gowns, ruffles, rose motifs and raffia trim in the collection, presented on a runway with a bounty of fruit baskets under colorful archways. At each front row seat there was a healthy red apple.
Per usual, the design duo dutifully turned out a parade of festive strapless cocktail frocks, including a sunshine-yellow taffeta stunner with pouf skirt swirled into a sculptural side bloom, one embroidered with multicolored ribbons like a maypole, and another in navy-and-natural raffia pattern that ended in a very tasteful Oscar-style grass skirt.
They seeded in an original print, a patchwork floral Kim developed out of fabric remnants, and deployed it on a breezy trenchcoat with a pretty pleated back, plus several separates, including shorts and a T-shirt. They upped the number of caftans (a growing part of their business even outside of the Middle East, they said) — both for day (billowy and bead-trimmed) and night (in a pleated gold lamé Elizabeth Taylor would have loved). They gave us a healthy dose of crystal-embroidered tulle, and a few pieces of eclectic jewelry. But it felt a bit formulaic.
There were exceptions — the crystal-embroidered cropped and fringed T-shirt over a cream tiered tulle maxiskirt was unexpected. And bow shorts! Gathered into a dramatic side bow, they came in peppy orange silk moire with an Army green camp shirt tucked in, or a floral print topped with a navy crewneck sweater. (The moss green utility jumpsuit version of the silhouette also looked dynamite.)
It was a clever way to carry over the house’s eveningwear tradition to the everyday, and proof of the designers’ creative spark. Now they just need to stoke it.