Lightness is all for the design duo whose embroideries spelt out a historical and a modern story
With bare winter trees throwing thin shadows over the runway and the clothes embroidered as if they were telling a fairy tale, the Oscar de la Renta show had a magical quality about it.
Yet, as the designers Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia explained backstage, the fairy tale was set on solid ground: a moment that the two shared when working with the revered designer, who died in 2014.
“It all came from a memorable moment with Oscar de la Renta himself, when he took us to The Cloisters – that was the starting point of the collection,” said Fernando referring to the Met Museum branch which specialises in European medieval architecture and decorative arts as he described the touches of embroidery for daywear and the lightness of the evening gowns as a way of taking the late designer’s spirit but “giving a lightness to it”. He referred to negligee tops paired with a ball skirt and the touches of embellishment in daywear – a blurring of the divide between casual and formality.
Laura described how it felt to fine-tune a heritage in which they had played a part.
“As a woman myself, I feel like there are no rules anymore to be dressed a certain way for certain events,” she said. “Women have so many more choices now. I believe you can wear a T-shirt to an evening event, if you can pull it together nicely. And there are so many methods for designers to explore how you show your creative arc.”
A historic era of arches and cloisters came though immediately as the first models stepped out in oversized coats and mid-calf dresses, with embroideries of leaves and branches giving a rustic effect. The surface decoration – from gilding on a white sweater to what seemed like wisps of thread on a white wool coat – all added to a historic and romantic storyline.
From the millennial generation themselves – and with their own Monse label responding to that youthful demographic – the pair made a good stab at light-touch romance. The embroideries sometimes moved too far into the Elizabethan era of historic tapestries and fancy quilts, but the mix of haute decoration and lightweight separates made a strong case for a prettiness that appealed to front row star Dakota Fanning.
The collection was almost entirely evening wear, although it is true that glitter has become an everyday accessory since the turn of the millennium. And Fernando underscored the fluidity of the modern wardrobe.
“It’s approaching evening in a new way,” the designer said. “Oscar would do evening coats with a touch of satin. Here, we are exploring it in tulle, something we haven’t seen him do before. It still has his essence but it’s much lighter in a way that you can throw over a more casual look.”
“When we were exploring the Elizabethan era, we came across these branch embroideries and botanical drawings and we just went with it,” he continued. “We developed a lot of botanical embroideries in India. We gravitated towards the branches because they had a graphic quality. We love contrast and strong articulation of our ideas.”
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