Spring was in the air chez Oscar de la Renta, as Beethoven’s “Pastorale” symphony trilled its jocund promise and the designer’s cabine of models stepped out like high-strutting thoroughbreds through a doorway embowered in dusty pink carnations and hydrangea.
The collection was perfumed with the atmosphere of mid-century couture as Oscar alone experienced it, when he worked in Madrid for Balenciaga, and Paris for Antonio Castillo—an era when designers thought about the needs of all their clients as they put their pragmatic collections together.
There were deep flounces of eyelet used for a romantic short evening dress (worn with flat sandals with straps of photo-printed feathers) to gladden a debutante’s heart, and that same eyelet effect worked as cutouts at the hem of a black-and-white light tweed sheath decorous enough for any of Oscar’s attendant clients and friends—Barbara Walters, Mica Ertegun, Nancy Kissinger, Mercedes Bass, and of course Annette de la Renta among them—to wear to a trustees’ meeting at one of Manhattan’s great civic institutions.
A balmacaan in double-face wool printed in an overscale pink-and-white gingham check was correctly pitched for a ladies’ luncheon, but playful worn with a mid-riff-baring top and a miniskirt of thick cotton lace.
There were flowers everywhere—dahlias of ostrich feather tendrils and gleaming silver tulips on dark fur, whilst meadows of Alpine flowers were embroidered into sheared mink, and scattered over Oscar’s prettiest dresses—thistledown light in pale organdy, or stately in faille. A perfect spring bouquet.