From the moment Karlie Kloss sashayed onto the runway in a red latex tank with a thigh-high ivory twill pencil skirt, opening the Oscar de la Renta Spring 2013 Ready-to-Wear Runway Presentation, I suffered that sublime fashion week phenomenon known as “runway whiplash”! It was neither (merely) the elegantly feminine silhouettes nor the luxurious fabrications, not even the exquisite resin flower necklaces and antique brooches that caused this season’s double-take-devotion, but rather the bold use of tartans, plaids, freeform threadwork, and vividly hued hair extensions in shades on pink, blue, and yellow that Orlando Pita had woven through the elegant updos. Mr. de la Renta has long been admired for his exquisitely elegant day suits and eveningwear, but with 60 new looks for spring, he continues to excite and enthrall his customer with an, albeit subtle, homage to the rebellious punk (inside of us all).
Oscar de la Renta is that extremely rare breed of designer who consistently manages to inject his collection with a youthfully modern spirit, appealing to that downtown hipster on the rise without ever alienating his blueblood Upper East Side socialite. It’s quite a delicate balance, but what might seem like the ultimate fashion paradox—the juxtaposition of ruffled latex, lace patchwork, and ribbon tweed—only reinforces one indisputable sartorial fact; it’s that one common denominator that all women share—regardless of geography, career, or even social standing—we all want to feel and look our best. And Mr. de la Renta is the master of doing just that!
My favorite looks from the Oscar de la Renta Spring 2013 Ready-to-Wear Collection included: the navy silk faille peplum jacket, red latex pencil skirt with antique silver, and coral resin brooch; the white lace patchwork with cotton scallop trim with aquamarine ribbon tweed jacket; the yellow ruffled latex tank and amber silk tape macramé jacket atop the multicolor tartan shantung taffeta bias-tiered pencil skirt; the emerald latex tank and pencil skirt with a shocking pink silk faille bead and ornament tassel embroidered jacket; the capri silk organza slip, black and white polyurethane embroidered knit caraco and skirt; the white floral guipure net scribble threadwork and jet embroidered dress; the white silk organza and red threadwork flower embroidered dress; the black silk faille silver bead embroidered gown; and the light pink silk faille silver bead embroidered peplum bustier with silk cocktails shorts.
Oscar de la Renta does not typically assign one specific theme or inspiration to his collection beyond making impeccably beautiful, tailored clothes, but this season there was an undeniable hint of 70’s influence. Patterned jumpsuits, embroidered tassels, leather macramé, and mirrored belts may have been borrowed from another decade, but herein they were reimagined in a confectionary palette of amber, aquamarine, emerald, and shocking pink balanced by ivory, oyster, navy, and black. The color scheme’s neutrality wasn’t the only grounding element. What made the collection feel so of-the-moment was the way Mr. de la Renta seamlessly paired traditional proportions, such as a tank or peplum jacket atop a pencil skirt, with unexpected textures and treatments in sculpted latex, tiered tweed, and perforated leather. There’s been a subtle subversion bubbling to the surface on the runways in recent seasons. Whether expressed by the strength of a more structured silhouette, the brazenness of brighter colors, or the use of more rough-hewn textural elements. Borrowing judiciously from a more aggressive, stripped-down, anti-establishment music genre, Mr. de la Renta has put his spin on the era. Who knew punk could ever be so posh?
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