(images via wwd)
even if we hadn’t known this season that john galliano has been working as a resident designer at the house of oscar de la renta, it was pretty obvious once the a/w 2013 clothes hit the nyfw catwalk. and i don’t mean to imply there weren’t plenty of odlr ideas for those kids in awe of them–just that the collection, on the whole, felt a lot like a split from the de la renta archives (see a/w 2010, resort 2011, s/s 2011, pre-fall 2011, resort 2012, s/s 2012, pre-fall 2012, a/w 2012, resort 2013, s/s 2013, pre-fall 2013) and mr. galliano’s prior work, both for christian dior, but especially for his own label. so, of course, the reason i’m chosing to close out our nyfw coverage with this was that i’d call it hands-down the best show of the week, the best surprise, and, of course, the most reason to inject hope into our overall perspectives on fashion.
right, then. so are you ready to dive into some of the (sure to be deep) critical analysis? let’s away! “‘It was,’ said DVF, ‘a beautiful conversation.’ She’s referring, of course, to the dialogue between de la Renta and John Galliano, which has been going on since the latter took studio space in the former’s midtown atelier some time ago,” related us vogue. “Whatever they fell to talking about was clearly stimulating; this was an elegant collection that fused rigor and romanticism with a flourish and was a powerful reminder of what each designer does so brilliantly, which is to say, cut and construct like nobody’s business.”
“de la Renta’s simple yet generous gesture to Galliano—extending the offer to come help, and start to work again—feels very real and human-scaled,” they continued. “On that count, bravo Oscar. And as for the clothes. . . . The show opened with a strong statement on the art of construction. We’ve seen plenty of that these past few days, clothes cleverly—sometimes too cleverly—worked and worked and worked, with all manner of tricks built in. There were none here. Instead, a powerful opening group of coats and suits, in black, teal, and aubergine, which relied solely on the expert manipulation of silhouette and fabric.
yet on the other hand, suzy menkes of the iht was a little less impressed, tossing out that “(f)irst: The hat. Dark, deep-crowned and a neat topping off of a Dior-style suit draped into rounded curves at the waist. After that, came a pretty easy guessing game as to who had done what. It included from Mr. Galliano the fairy makeup and ragged hair, with a drowned mermaid look by the end of the show atop one of Mr. de la Renta’s glorious, full-skirted gowns. In the accessories department were loose chiffon gloves with painterly patterns and jewels put artistically onto odd spots, like the nape of the neck.”
“This hybrid fashion was sometimes compelling, always strange and seemed wistful and dreamy compared to the youthful energy and techno fabrics of Mr. de la Renta’s work last season. It was an example of opposing aesthetics not quite meeting: two artists working on the same painting, with some nice touches like the toile de Jouy-type patterns. Full marks to the American designer for offering an olive branch of forgiveness; and to Mr. Galliano for staying discreetly out of sight. This was a collaboration that played out as interesting fashion comments on both sides — but not as a conversation,” she concluded.
and on a more frivolous end of things, we heard from usa today, a veritable shriek that “he clothes…were as sumptuous as ever: crystal-encrusted necklaces, feather-festooned cloche hats, gold bullion embroidery, gossamer gloves in red and blue. And who says fall is for jewel tones? De la Renta hiked up the hue factor with chartreuse, citrine and shocking pink. The vicar of volume played with the formula, trotting out billowy peplums, hooded capes, cocoon jackets, exaggerated sleeves and, of course, silk ballgowns. There was whimsy (a red toile print) and sex appeal,” leaving me to wonder if they’d had any idea mr. galliano has been in residence.
then, of course, the daily beast seemed not to want to credit mr. galliano’s influence at all (ludicrous as that might sound): “The collection de la Renta presented was classic Oscar—with, perhaps, a few touches reminiscent of Galliano’s Dior. There were jackets and dresses cinched at the waist with thin belts; long, elegant gloves, and, for the finale, dramatic ball gowns. Each detail, which at first may have seemed like a hint of Galliano, could also have easily been in the realm of de la Renta—which, perhaps, speaks to the collaboration’s success.” hmm. yeah, okay.
yet in a slightly more humourous turn, style offered that “(w)hen his PR chief was asked if Galliano had worked on the collection, she demurred, saying, ‘Well, he is backstage.’ There was that, and then there were the clothes themselves. Certain looks seemed very much to bear the Englishman’s hand, especially the opening jackets with their draped necklines and flaring hips; there was something of Dior’s classic Bar silhouette in them. Among the other clues that Galliano was in the house: The marcelled locks and deeply shaded, greasy eyes (one of four separate hair and makeup looks) were familiar from his Paris days.”
“The real question, though, isn’t who did this and who did that” they accurately identified, “but rather, was it all any good? In some ways, it felt a good deal more conservative than de la Renta’s Spring collection, which boasted latex skirts and tops as well as evening shorts. On the other hand, nothing last season came close to the wow factor of the two grand silk faille ball gowns with gold bullion embroidery (one shocking pink, the other mulberry) that closed the show. In theory, Galliano’s residency is almost up, but if there’s one thing for certain, tonight wasn’t the end of the intrigue.”
elsewhere, the la times simply clambered out that this was “(a)n interesting experiment. De la Renta has said he would like to have Galliano stay on, and if he does, it will be something to watch this mind-meld. This first outing felt a bit schizophrenic at times — in color palette, silhouette and approach. But it was good for both parties because it got us all talking. Now, if only it had put Galliano and De la Renta’s names in the headlines for the right reasons.” but…didn’t it?
meanwhile, we heard fashion week daily offer that “(t)he answer [on what the collab would look like] came in the form of nipped-waist jackets atop knee-grazing skirts slightly reminiscent of the iconic Dior Bar silhouette, not to mention those cloche hats pulled over darkly-shaded eyes. Sublime. Later, a stash of de la Renta staples paraded out, from a toile-print day dress to a black organza number with white floral embroidery, to the show-closing silk faille ball gown with gold bullion embroidery worn by Karlie Kloss. Galliano’s temporary stint may be coming to a close, but we’re guessing this is only the beginning.”
“Galliano stayed backstage and out of sight,” reported wwd on his whereabouts. “Still, his presence was felt. Perhaps it was the power of suggestion, but the opening sequence of wrap coats and jackets worn over slim, knee-length skirts seemed descended from the house of Dior, where the Bar jacket, with its nipped waist and sculpted peplum, was a perennial focus. The de la Renta versions in eggplant flannel, teal and black were stripped down, cut in lean lines with a dose of melancholy edge. Some of the girls wore streamlined cloche hats and one jacket came in black leather, expertly draped and folded at the waist with a hint of origami technique.”
“Then came evening. Beginning with the chic and spare — a black jacket worn over a naked torso and fluid floor-length skirt — the story built into a world of color with jewel-toned dresses and gorgeous ballgowns in vivid silk faille, their skirt volumes tempered into perfect modern lines. The show’s beauty was telling, too. While typically de la Renta favors a single classic, pretty look, here, it changed with the clothes. The first girls out were plainfaced but for the shock of orange lipstick; those done up for evening wore lavish, dark-eyed makeup and hair greased into waves, a look that might have been transplanted from a Galliano runway of yore. So what was the plot line? A tale of two designers, it had mystery, suspense, harmony, beauty, optimism — and some truly great clothes,” they concluded.
and in a more straightforward assessment, the washington post weighed in that “(t)here seemed distinct segments of the collection: the uptown lady who wears a belted shawl-collar jacket — black leather or aubergine stretch flannel, her choice — or a cashmere cardigan with dyed silver fox trim to go with her pencil skirt; the artsy jetsetter who wears her black-and-ivory, Toile-print quilted skirt suit with panache; and the young socialite who can rock a shocking-pink ballgown with gold embroidery.”
but the telegraph had perhaps the best assessment of the night, offering that “(t)here was always a danger of overstating Galliano’s involvement though. This is a man slowly recuperating from his personal battles and slowly immersing himself back into fashion.This wasn’t Galliano coming in and reinterpreting De La Renta’s aesthetic in a ballsy and forthright manner. Instead this was an Oscar de la Renta collection through and through, reinforced and subtly sparked by Galliano’s suggestions and design traits.”
“We picked up on the smoky smoldering make-up,” they continued, “the loose hair with a suggestion of a Marcel wave, the cinched in waists on 40s-riffed tailoring worn with cloche hats or a risqué looking black organza and chiffon gown dripping with jet black embroidery. What ultimately prevailed though was still classic Oscar. From last spring’s latex curveball, we got a masterful lesson in the art of uptown dressing. Where else would a decadent sable sweatshirt, toile de jouy patterns on quilted day dresses and a voluminous chartreuse dress with origami embroidery make sense in one collection?
and cathy horyn of the nyt, curious as well, commented that “(t)hough it’s pointless to speculate about exactly what he may have designed, it’s clear his presence made a difference. Mr. de la Renta seemed pleased to have him there. The collection was strong for its sinewy tailoring, mainly draped-front suits and coats in charcoal or teal flannel and a ruby shade of cashmere, and polished but sexy separates, like those stretch leather pants and a pea jacket. There were big party dresses, but the more pared-down numbers looker newer.”
and finally, we had uk vogue, closing us out with the good point that “(t)here were dirndl skirts to sparkly-smothered tops and there were feathers and lace on cascading floor-length gowns, the sort the label does so well. And with them came eye make-up to match – acid green to acid green, magenta pink to magenta pink – and shoes to match too for de la Renta always harks back to an old world grandeur of dressing, one which even if you can’t ever imagine being a part of, you want to imagine being a part of – especially in this evening’s incarnation. Our Galliano query might not have entirely been answered entirely but other sartorial questions certainly were and, after all, it’s still good to have some mystery and intrigue when it comes to the powers that be in the fashion world.”
(enjoy the full fashion show video here)