Oscar de la Renta didn’t do shows for his pre-collections. He preferred a presentation format—that way he could chat with attendees not just about the clothes, but about their love lives. So we were reminded today, ahead of a brief, intimate défilé at the Oscar de la Renta atelier. Oscar wasn’t there, of course, but his spirit filled the room. It was also inherent in the clothes: Pre-Fall 2015 was the last collection he had a hand in designing. The house’s new creative director, Peter Copping, advised the studio a bit on how to finish it, after de la Renta’s death in October, but this wasn’t his debut. Copping sat in the front row, taking it all in as a bystander, in essence.
How does one review a collection like this—one that operates not as a swan song, not as an homage, but as a coda to a great career, now definitively over? On its merits, of course. And though these clothes didn’t serve to turn the fashion dial in any way, they manifested the soigné de la Renta signature in spades. India was more or less the theme, apparent in the collection’s plethora of hot pink—famously, the “navy blue of India”—and its hothouse florals and jaw-dropping thread embroidery. There was a suggestion of a sari in the way that ruffles wrapped around the body, or in the choli-taut fit of a bow-backed sleeveless top of double-stretch wool. The reference was put in the service of the de la Renta look rather than hammered home. It spoke loudest in the collection’s clutch of cocktail frocks and gowns, particularly in a New Look-shaped dress of navy tulle that featured bright pink floral-thread embroidery, and the champagne-toned finale gowns with allover gold or silver embellishment. The maharaja’s wife moves to New York, gets a place on Park Avenue, and needs things to wear to her nigh-nightly galas. Naturally, she turns first to de la Renta.