Oscar de la Renta’s shows used to be one of the town’s toughest tickets. For a time they were held in a lovely church uptown, but moved into his office space for the last few seasons of his life, which whittled down the guest lists even further. Still, it was a special experience: his stately signature scrawled across a runway backdrop that often featured flowers, coiffed Society Ladies Who Lunch peppered in the seats next to the likes of Barbara Walters, Valentino, Sarah Jessica Parker, sometimes Roger Federer on Anna Wintour’s arm (he got a standing ovation once after he won the U.S. Open). You might also see Justin Timberlake, or an Olsen. Even without the man himself, the brand is sufficiently Big Time that a Fashion Week without OdlR’s show to me feels as incomplete as a Fashion Week without Marc Jacobs — and the fact that we don’t get EITHER of them now is truly wild.
OdlR, at least, is churning out clothes, but not on runways yet — not since Covid. So the recent line arrived not with a bang, but a whimper, slinking in at the end of the week in photo form while everyone was on planes to London. Vogue viewed the streamlined collection as a sign that OdlR has evolved away from the customer it courted during Mr. de la Renta’s days — when, at Fashion’s Night Out, he threw a party at his store whose main attraction was getting to watch SJP and Mikhail Baryshnikov waltz together — and toward the younger and more modern Billie Eilishes of the world (she wore the line at the Met Gala). Basically, the Monse designers may be targeting more of a Monse crowd. There is still some OdlR DNA in here, but there is a noticeable shift in how it’s deployed. As much as brands have to move on and move forward, hopefully this one will continue to respect the foundation upon which it’s built. There’s room for both an edge and the more traditional glamour of Oscar de la Renta at the house that bears his name. As they proved themselves with Billie’s Met gown, the twain can indeed meet.