Why build to a dramatic finish when you can open with a bang? At least that seemed to be Oscar de la Renta's philosophy when he presented his spring 2012 collection yesterday at a gritty unfinished space on W. 42nd St.--a move from the Upper East Side Park Ave. location where he's been showing for years. Models burst out onto the runway in silk taffeta ball gowns in marigold, emerald and tomato that billowed down the longest runway I've ever seen to a soundtrack of, get this, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. Really.
There were still plenty of embroidered and crocheted day dresses appropriate for de la Renta's core ladies-who-lunch clientele, but with the new show space and bad ass rock soundtrack the designer seemed to be turning over a new leaf with renewed energy. If you needed more proof that there was a new Oscar in town this season, look no further than the youthful star-studded front row. While de la Renta's front row is usually stacked with his posh friends and buyers, this season Justin Timberlake was there (we overheard him exchanging pleasantries and tennis with Anna Wintour), a few seats down from him was Ashley Olsen (she and JT were both wearing black suits), and across from Ashley was New York fashion week's unexpected new star, Nicki Minaj (she wasn't wearing pants and had on a tiger hat complete with ears). The tanned glory that is Valentino Garavani was also there, a few chairs down from Barbara Walters.
But back to the clothes. Big show stopping ball gowns and evening wear bookended the collection. In between were some chic nubby knit suits, printed shifts, and day dresses with accentuated waists. But it was the evening wear that stole the show. de la Renta showed 62 looks and from about look 44 on--Lindsay Wixson in a light pink silk chiffon ostrich feather number--each subsequent look could have been a show closer. There was fur and gold lame and sequins and feathers and big poofy sleeves on embroidered floral print dresses (oh my!). The show closing number was contrastingly more subdued: a champagne crush pleated silk tulle gown with a single red taffeta bow attached at one sleeve and gold jewelry in the model's hair. The look fit lock-step with Oscar's new vibe: still glamorous and elegant, but revived with a bit of edge. (Yes, we used our least favorite fashion word, sorry).
**All photos: Imaxtree