How do you make your mark at the house of a late, beloved designer while honoring his legacy? That's a challenge Peter Copping is still figuring out at Oscar de la Renta — electing, so far, to produce clothes closely in keeping with the house's codes while injecting his own love of lingerie details and a little youthfulness into each collection. Copping made another change on Tuesday evening by moving the spring 2016 show out of the company's Bryant Park showroom and into the white-carpeted confines of the Prince George Ballroom on 28th Street, which was a fitting setting for the high-glamour collection that followed.
In addition to being glamorous, Copping's spring collection was noteworthy for its craftsmanship. Immaculate construction and an elaborate attention to detail were two things the late de la Renta was known for, honed during his years at the design studios of Cristóbal Balenciaga and Antonio Castillo at Lanvin. During his short tenure at the house, Copping has produced some really beautiful gowns, but the daywear has sometimes lacked the same finish.
That was not the case with Tuesday evening's collection, which opened with a dress and matching jacket in ruby red jacquard, its floral pattern picked out by delicately frayed edges. It was followed by a boxy coat, also in ruby, in a patchwork of suede, lace and silk matelassé edged with stitched leather; and banded broderie anglaise dresses, done first in red and then in dragonfly green, which looked youthful with their ruffled waists and knotted necklines.
Copping, as we've mentioned, has been keen to introduce a bit more youthfulness to the house's collections, and there is plenty besides the broderie anglaise dresses for the under-35 set to choose from for spring: a knee-length white and red carnation-print silk day dress with a ruffled front and tiered skirt, a black denim skirt with a large ruffle down the hip, and a pair of cocktail dresses with bustier tops and full taffeta skirts ending around the knee.
But the most striking and memorable looks were the gowns, their drama heightened by chantilly lace dickies that wrapped elegantly around the neck. A sheer-skirted navy organza and tulle gown embroidered with vinyl flowers is sure to appear on a red carpet come awards season, as is a simpler, seafoam-colored dress with a square-cut neck that sashayed gently down the runway. The only look that did not seem a success was the final one: an ice blue ballgown whose elaborate pleats, tucks and ruffles were somewhat obscured by droopy black ribbons tied along the front and sides. But it only detracted a little from what was otherwise a very refined collection.
Rodarte is another label whose craftsmanship and embellishments have show guests leaning forward in their seats each season. Tuesday's showing had a definite '70s vibe, with slinky sequin pants and blazers, skinny scarves, and lantern-sleeve blouses in a mishmash of paisley and velvet. Black lace, metallic t-strap pumps and jackets with big, shaggy arms gave the collection a rocker edge — it certainly embodied, at times, the spirit of Hedi Slimane's work at Saint Laurent. But each look, with its intricate layers of lace, sequins and fringe, was unmistakably Rodarte. As always, it was the gowns that excelled: romantic, floor-length confections of embroidered chiffon, tulle and lace, with front sashes of embroidered leaves that gave them a Grecian feel.
Narciso Rodriguez is not a designer who engages with much surface detail — nor print, for that matter — and so the focus is always on the silhouettes, the seams and his sparing use of color. This season, his black sateens had a leathery feel, wrapped like a scarf on a blouse and repeated in straight-cut trousers and a floor-length dress cut diagonally across the collarbone and one thigh. Pale lemon, citron and bright orange added zest to the otherwise black-and-white palette, drawing the eye to the waist or in an arc down the body. Those arcs were later repeated in jeweled and floral embroidery — the only embellishments in the collection. Rodriguez has been building out his accessories offerings in recent seasons, and on the runway he showed oversized python clutches dyed in soft colors, repeating the python in heeled sandals in squarish slingback heels.
There was a bit of something for everybody on the third-to-last day of New York Fashion Week.