My thoughts as Monse’s final model finished crossing the stage were not concerned with the clothing but with the giant mass of drapery that was hiding something in the center of the runway—something conceivably so important that Monse was confined to the very edges of side stage. It was hiding Oscar de la Renta, of course.
This being Oscar’s first shared show, a bold executive decision by designers Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim, there was confusion and anticipation to how the pair’s two collections would be presented. Simultaneously or sequentially, and who would be closing the show? Following Monse, the curtains began to open to reveal two geometric white tunnels designed by Stefan Beckman: Oscar’s runway. Of course, for dramatic effect, the curtains got stuck and after an awkward minute of unsuccessful yanking a tech was forced to run onto the stage to unsnag it. It was a sore transition, but something that felt utterly inconsequential as Oscar’s first model emerged to a completely fixated crowd, crossed the black checkerboard floor in a flurry of color, and disappeared again into the depths of the set.
Having seen his retrospective at the De Young last year, I was somewhat familiarized with the brand’s 80-year history of ball gowns and propensity for color. Because creative direction was in new hands now, there was probably a revived emphasis on preserving the brand’s roots while pushing its relevance forward. So in classic Oscar panache, the collection sang as loud as its brightest colors, of which there were plenty—a brassy copper bubble dress and matador red gown with a sharply exaggerated bust, an electric magenta coat with oversized lapels, a shocking chartreuse off-the-shoulder ruched gown. Prints were used sparingly, but graphic and tessellated when they appeared on a laser cut ball gown or candy striped set. The runway transitioned from neon candyland to a series of blacks and whites using architectural teardrop busts, magnetic spheres oddly reminiscent of Newton’s Cradle, pleating, asymmetrical necklines, and striped Cruella furs. Amidst the solid color blocking, my favorite moments were appearances of beaded embroidery cascading from the clavicles or bunches of flowers sewn into three dimensional clusters.
The show reached a religious climax as Bella Hadid ended the show in a figure-hugging black gown, featuring a heavily encrusted swoop of crystal embroidery that rounded out her hip. A moment of silence as we witnessed this sacred spectacle, before Monse and Oscar collectively marched down either end of the stage and simultaneously crossed each other in a double waterfall, a finale that proved a successful showing of two very different sibling collections.