Thursday, May 15, 2008

Amazing ‘Lace’

(Photos by Scott Gries)

It was a no brainer, after Miuccia Prada unveiled her lace laden fall winter 2008 collection in Milan several months ago, that lace would quickly find its way back into fashion’s favor and have a rebirth, if you will. Not that lace was in danger of disappearing, mind you, but let’s face it, when arguably one of the most influential designers in the world breaths new life into what is normally a demure fabric, dusts off the cobwebs that are normally associated with it, and basically builds an entire collection around it, it’s obvious that lace would find itself the center of attention. And as it turns out, lace (in a variety of incarnations) figured prominently in two events I covered on Wednesday.

Oscar de la Renta staged his 66 piece resort 2008 show, at what has become his new favorite spot, 583 Park Avenue. Looking relaxed and tan, he could be seen meeting, greeting, and mingling beforehand with a crowd that included editors (seemingly all of Vogue was there and Anna Wintour looked uncharacteristically sporty in a crisp white shirt, printed skirt - by Oscar I presume - and high heeled sandals), retailers, and social fixtures (though I have to report that the second row in one section had to be filled in at the last moment since apparently, a handful of guests did not show up).

The upbeat collection was pretty, it was ‘ladylike’, it was colorful, and it was filled with all the dashing designer’s signatures and favorites...,in other words, it was ‘very Oscar’. Among the recurring themes were matched and mismatched suits (many in silk shantung, wool and silk, cotton and silk); a myriad of blouses (some had attached scarves, some were sleeveless, others boasted interesting sleeves); the use of islandly shades of Caribbean blue, coral, emerald green along with more neutral ochre, eggshell, black, and white; prints (there was a phoenix print, a tweed print, woodblock prints, ikats, florals, abstract brushstrokes); wide legged pants; caftans; jewel like embroidery on dresses and sweaters; hand crochet knits; one shouldered cocktail dresses (little black dresses and printed dresses); the use of highly textured 3-d organza ribbon and pleated organza.

And there was lace: guipure lace, Chantilly lace, colored lace, lace overlay, and embroidered lace. (Of course, don’t forget that images of Oscar de la Renta’s ivory lace wedding dress, worn by Jenna Bush for her nuptials last weekend, were seen the world over). Standouts in the collection include a short white guipure lace empire dress; a white silk taffeta blouse with black Chantilly lace trim worn with a knee length Caribbean guipure lace peplum skirt; a short black guipure lace dress with a silk woodblock print embroidered skirt; an entrance making full skirted black silk organza and tulle gown with guipure lace bodice.

-Marilyn Kirschner

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Oscar’s ‘Garden’ of Earthly Delights

“The flowers that bloom in the spring, tar la”….It did not take a rocket scientist to deduce that flowers, which literally bloomed all over spring 2008 runways, would later find their way into the following fall season. After all, in a season of prints and patterns, flowers of every variety and transformed into all colorations, were THE biggest story (in both ready to wear and accessories). They were certainly the big news at Balenciaga where Nicolas Guesquiere made florals look ‘of the moment’, ‘hip’ and ‘cool’ owing to their abbreviated, sculpted, and molded incarnations.

With that in mind, I was hardly surprised that Oscar de la Renta’s pre fall lineup, shown formally yesterday afternoon at 583 Park before a crowd that included members of the press, retailers, and social figures (including Glenda Bailey, Hal Rubenstein, Linda Fargo, Aerin Lauder) would be replete with blossoms. After all, the print and color loving designer known for his ultra feminine oeuvre, has already shown his signature ethnic inspired Ikat prints for several seasons already and florals are not only a change of pace for fall, but certainly in keeping with his aesthetic. And Oscar’s joyful buds, like those at Balenciaga, looked imminently modern thanks to the shape and structure given to the silhouettes. No soft and droopy flowers here.

There were florals for day, florals for evening, floral brocade jackets shown with full knee length skirts in contrasting fabrics, short floral dresses, floral dresses shown beneath embroidered floral jackets, and floor length floral trimmed gowns. Oscar opened his 63 piece show with a brightly hued (in exuberant shades of green, blue, yellow, and red) floral cloque brocade jacket shown over a soft knee length black tweed skirt, and closed with a finale which included dramatic gowns featuring floral silk faille panel prints. In between, there were floral silk zibeline and floral silk faille panel print cocktail dresses (one in particular that stood out was a knee length strapless dress trimmed with black patent embroidery), abstract tulip silk zibeline dresses (some covered with embroidery), and dresses with multicolor floral embroidery shown under embroidered jackets.

Other themes (which unsurprisingly were all very ‘Oscar’ in mood and tone) included hits of strong color (lacquer red, emerald green and fuchsia) sometimes mixed with black for both day and evening, smart suits (many in neutral toned tweeds), distinctive knitted jackets and sweaters (including a range of cashmere and silk cardigans that were richly embroidered), and of course, brand new takes on that popular LBD (many of which were done in silk faille, silk satin, or brocade and trimmed with black velvet or black satin bows). When skirts or dresses were knee length, the leg was encased in thick shiny black opaque hose and the high heeled shoe, boot, or sandal was also black (which further lengthened the leg).

-Marilyn Kirschner


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Oscar’s ‘Full’ of Himself

No silly, I’m not referring to Oscar de la Renta’s ego; though the debonair and popular fashion veteran is certainly entitled to feel mighty good about himself after winning the Council of Fashion Designer’s Women’s Wear Designer of the Year Award (in a tie with Proenza Shouler).

What I AM referring to is Oscar’s penchant for full, wide- legged, cuffed, floor sweeping pants at yesterday’s resort show. Most often counterbalanced with something leaner on top (a narrow cotton hand knit or cashmere and silk sweater), they, along with wide legged jumpsuits; wasp waist, petticoated dresses; full skirted cocktail dresses; filmy caftans, were indicative of his love of volume. But since Oscar always wants to give his ladies a variety of choices and options, he also proposed a lean silhouette by way of stretch cotton pencil skirts and abbreviated jackets and narrow stretch silk pleated dresses among other things.

Coincidentally, like last year, the resort show was a formal runway presentation held just hours before the CFDA Awards; not exactly the most convenient situation considering the pouring rain (which probably accounted for the many empty seats- I estimated the venue as 75% full). And many attendees were surely preoccupied with getting themselves home or to a hair salon, in order to get ready for the big event later on.

Speaking of convenient, just a few days before, the show was wisely moved from a gallery in Chelsea (located in the far reaches of the west side) to a decidedly more elegant uptown space, 583 Park Avenue. The venue was not only more in keeping with Oscar’s unapologetically elegant and uptown design aesthetic, but it was a bit more convenient- not only for his upper east side fans and customers (Aerin Lauder, Alexandra Lind) but for top editors like Anna Wintour (with daughter in tow), and Glenda Bailey (wearing an ivory crochet coat from spring), as well as top retailers (Bergdorf Goodman’s Linda Fargo and Neiman Marcus’s Ken Downing).

By the way, with the soggy downpour courtesy Hurricane Barry, wrecking havoc all morning, the most essential item of clothing was a great raincoat and there were many on view. While Anna opted for a sharp black patent trench, many others decided upon classic or not so classic khaki (like The New York Times’s Anne Christensen who wore Burberry’s short flared sleeved Mac with large buttons).

As for the collection, it was signature, consistent Oscar all the way, and indicative of why he took home the coveted Women’s Wear of the Year Award. The neutral color palette (white, natural, and navy, black) was enlivened with hits of yellow and tangerine- the latter looked especially fresh in the form of a patent leather drawstring jacket worn with a white stretch cotton pencil skirt, natural python Larrabee bag, and tangerine patent flat sandals. Stripes, oversized polka dots (this time embroidered), bold florals, and Ikat prints (what else is new???) provided a respite from the solids.

Getting back to the resort show, ODLR continued his experimentation with sleeves (in terms of volume, length, and silhouette) and is obviously taken with blouses, which were shown with skirts and pants. Noteworthy is his new ‘schizophrenic’ blouse: from the front it appears to be a classic button down shirt but the large bow in back gives it an unexpectedly feminine touch and added volume and dimension.

A selection of bags (from sleek clutches to oversized takeaway totes), belts (like the wide corset like patent leather version), hats (both tailored menswear inspired and whimsically large brimmed), and shoes (either pancake flats or sky high heels) all by Oscar of course, perfectly accessorized each of the 64 outfits in high style.

By the way, Anna Wintour showed up at the CFDA Awards held at the New York Public Library, wearing a knee length black and white embroidered floral dress by Oscar de la Renta. Others going the short route (and choosing Oscar), were wife Annette and her daughter Eliza Reed Bolen (who also works for the designer), both in short black cocktail dresses. They were proof that one need not wear floor length gowns in order to make a grand entrance. In fact, on the contrary. Sorry to say, but Oprah Winfrey’s complicated and voluminous Ralph Lauren gown was unflattering and looked unwieldy. And considering the heat, those who dressed up too much looked hot and bothered (like Allure’s Linda Wells in cumbersome feathers).

But hey, the CFDA Awards are not your typical red carpet event, and there are going to be many different ways to dress and many ways to creatively interpret ‘black tie’. For example, Bruce Weber turned out with a trademark red and white cotton bandana on his forehead; Vogue’s Grace Coddington showed up in her trademark black pantsuit; Zang Toi and his date, Rachel Smith, Miss USA, made a visual statement clad in matching black and white paisleys. Though Zang’s was a shirt and Bermudas, and Ms. Smith’s was a grand ballgown.

Interestingly, even though this was the 25th anniversary of the CFDA, it seems that silver (which signifies the years) was eclipsed by every other color of the rainbow (red, pink, black), and by its metal counterpart gold. Though one woman did pay homage to honoree Ralph Lauren and the anniversary date by accessorizing her floor length white cotton shirtdress (emblazoned with Ralph’s signature polo player) with a silver ‘tie’.

And speaking of shirtdresses, Charles Nolan’s lacquer red short sleeved shirt dress gown, worn on his model date, was an example of taking something simple yet adding drama through color, cut, and fabric. But in a sea of gowns, I have to say that one true standout was Amy Fine Collins’ colorful vintage Geoffrey Beene gown with its abbreviated bolero. Other than this year’s inaugural Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award (which was awarded to Robert Lee Morris), what better way to pay homage to the late great designer!

- Marilyn Kirschner

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