Change is definitely here in fashion, and we can see it no more clearly than in the Oscar de la Renta house. Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia trained under the designer before taking over as co-creative directors after his death, and it was a tough beginning. In their inaugural runway show, the duo were just trying to figure out their vision and to what degree to balance that with Oscar’s heritage signatures and original aesthetics. Their very green attempt met with mixed reviews.
The change of the guard has come at the same time as the shift in the industry climate. It’s becoming harder for designers to remain relevant without adjusting their business practices, including pricing, online availability, experimenting in the see-now, buy-now model, and offering more laid back and casual options. Pretty much the opposite of most of Oscar de la Renta‘s practices. So I was intrigued to see what Kim and Garcia would do.
Their resort 2018 collection was definitely an improvement – a tempered mix between Oscar’s staple aesthetics and more modernist exploratory approaches. But it was a resort collection, so it’s hard to say whether this was an indication of movement toward true casual or any major change in practices.
And now for the Spring 2018 collection, Kim and Garcia took bold steps away from Oscar’s signature perspectives, taking inspiration from pop art and thank you letters from Hollywood celebs. It wasn’t a total departure, but a tension of bold artistic perspectives met with a desire to honor heritage. The pair paid loving homage to the design house founder in a beautiful way, redesigning the brand logo to his literal signature, taken from those same heartfelt notes. And the silhouettes were definitely the house standard.
The runway opened with relaxed separates in white, denim, and indigo with minimal paint drips. The thank you letter script print showed up on a button down, dresses, and even an intarsia fur.
Separates moved into vibrant monochrome pants and white tops with red ODLR signatures or hearts.
From there, the pop art got more aggressive. The looks were chock full of bold paint splatters and giant block letter OSCARs a la Sesame Street.
Flower pieces, leaves, and hearts were cut out in different shapes and colors on opaque material, and placed over sheer ODLR classic signature silhouettes. Modernist pop art meets timeless vintage.
As the collection moved to eveningwear, the pop settled down a bit, and we saw a reverse relief effect with unfilled floral outlines on white tops with blocks of sequins in the background. Several skirts and dresses showed a dripping cascade effect with sequins “falling” from the top.
The evening dresses and gowns flowed more toward Oscar, the artistry amped up, and this is where I thought the designers shined. A scribble dress was almost all black in the middle, but you could still see the spots where the artist didn’t color all the way through, and I thought this was clever. Smooth pen lines become both the neckline as well as the hemline, which also has ODLR‘s signature. The following dress cleans up the lines, taking them linear and vertical with a glitzy silver over black tulle. And then silver rings, lips, and modern weave, all over pretty traditional ODLR silhouettes with few exceptions. While I’m in love with the white crop top and skirt set with silver tone bead and sequins, I want to literally rip off those giant silver chevron shaped discs. Just kills it for me!
The final looks were cotton candy tulle confections in bold pops of modernist color from a nude and pink midi number to a frothy white and salamander ombre gown. Definitely not expected from Oscar’s house, but absolutely enjoyed.
Photos by Masato Onoda, WWD