“Making clothes.” That was Oscar de la Renta’s response when asked what he was thinking about for resort 2013. It wasn’t, admittedly, the most incisive or penetrating or okay, go on, say it, I won’t mind original question to pose moments after a show. Yet de la Renta’s nifty, no-nonsense reply, delivered with a warm chuckle, pretty much encapsulates what was going on here. This was quite simply a collection about clothes. Lots of clothes. Better still, lots of really good clothes. De la Renta offered softer, gentler, and more relaxed variations on what we’ve come to know over the years as the Oscar archetypes: the little skirt suit made up of a just-slip-it-on cardigan jacket and lean skirt, the frothy cocktail dress that fizzes and foams to the knees, the decorative sweater with a swish of an evening skirt, and the columnar dress whose big-night presence is in inverse proportion to the narrowness of its silhouette.
But the real sense of ease couldn’t be measured by the lack of an intense, clear color palette (carnation, iris, vermilion, peridot, evergreen, and a shade of cobalt blue dubbed “Pacific”), or exuberant prints (gardenias, parrot tulips), or elaborate handwork (glinting embroideries abounded), because all of these were in very much in evidence here. Where it got light and breezy and uplifting was with de la Renta’s use of humble, homespun cotton as the collection’s material of choice, even if it came as a richly worked guipure lace or scattered with thousands upon thousands of sequins. The cotton somehow conspired to add a crisp unfussiness to everything. Even gingham, that most prosaic of patterns, got a look in this collection and it was taken to hitherto unattained levels of sophistication. Suddenly, it’s the fabric of our (very chic) lives.
Perhaps de la Renta is on to something with all this: Fall is set to bring fashion into full-on freak-chic mode, so there is something to be said for creating clothes that are unpretentious yet beautifully rendered. That thought certainly came to de la Renta’s head when he was at the Costume Institute Gala recently, dodging the dresses that had epically long trains trailing in their wake. “Some of them seemed to be 20 feet long!” he said, laughing. “Enough, really.” And, like all intelligent, forward-thinking designers, he has a solution: narrow pants in vibrant prints, to be worn with a jet-encrusted mule resting on a low block heel. Precious and practical.
Selections by ANDREA JANKE Finest Accessories
Photo Credits/Source: © VOGUE
Photography by © Alessandro Somma/GoRunway
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