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Oscar de la Renta's Peter Copping is Starting to Make His Mark

The house's pre-fall 2016 collection takes a turn for the graphic.
A look from Oscar de la Renta's pre-fall 2016 collection. Photo: Oscar de la Renta

A look from Oscar de la Renta's pre-fall 2016 collection. Photo: Oscar de la Renta

When Peter Copping sent out his first collection for Oscar de la Renta in February, less than four months after the late designer's passing, those in the audience were relieved to see that Copping could "do Oscar." The prim tweed suits, jewel-like cocktail dresses, extravagant embroidered gowns — they were all there, done in almost Oscar-like perfection.

In the collections Copping has developed since — for resort, bridal and spring — he's further proven his ability to produce a de la Renta design. In fact, shown side by side, some might be hard-pressed to identify a dress designed by de la Renta versus one from Copping's first offerings for the house. But little by little, Copping has been loosening up, weaving in his own signatures — like lace paneling and bustier tops, carried over from his days at Nina Ricci — and infusing a little youthfulness into each look.

But Copping's first pre-fall collection for de la Renta, shown at the house's showroom last Thursday, is a real departure. These were the first clothes that were obviously not the work of the late designer — they were contemporary, modern, assertive, even sexy, while still harkening to the house signatures. Take the opening number: a pink and black leather (!) skirt suit with tweed paneling and a lace front, which looked not like something an elegant septuagenarian would wear to lunch, but something a style-conscious young executive would wear to the office. Or take the bright, graphic florals printed on silk skirts, blouses and blazers, which seemed more of the contemporary art world than the world of de la Renta. A black beaded peplum jacket with a zippered front and crisp tuxedo pants seemed made for a young starlet like Emma Stone.

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While respectful of the house's aesthetic history, these clothes were clearly not designed by de la Renta. And with Copping's one-year anniversary at the house come and gone, it's well time.