NEW YORK — Almost every designer at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week has led off his or her fall 2013 collection with a variation of black. Sure, it's a color that works well in the winter months, but it can be awfully gloomy and tiresome — particularly in the Sunbelt.
Oscar de la Renta did something different. In the first look of his sparkling show, held in his midtown Manhattan showroom Tuesday night, he made a statement with a draped coat in a shiny, rich-looking teal, padded at the shoulders and cinched at the waist with a knotted belt.
The collaboration seems to have worked wonders for both men. The collection —de la Renta's freshest in years — maintains the DNA of the brand while Galliano's work at Dior shines through i n the silhouettes and styling.
The collection, more tightly edited than previous ones with only 49 looks instead of the 60 or so de la Renta usually shows, included suits and coats shaped in more voluminous ways (I don't recall ever seeing a bustle on an ODLR design), hooded capes over leather stretch pants, origami folds and gowns with far less embellishment than usual.
There was hardly a ladies-who-lunch tweed suit in the collection. OK, maybe one or two.
Even the music had a more lighthearted feeling, as updated versions of the classic "As Time Goes By" and "I'm in the Mood for Love" played throughout the show.
It seems that, at age 80, de la Renta has become an incurable romantic.
Could he be in love?
It sure seems that way. The object of his professional affection: Disgraced French designer John Galliano, who has come to America — the land of second chances — and appears to be making the most of it.
After Galliano was filmed making anti-Semitic remarks in a Paris cafe in 2010, he was fired as Christian Dior creative director, and became a pariah in the fashion community. A public trial and hefty fine ensued, along with a stint in rehab at an Arizona clinic, where he was treated for alcoholism.
But a few weeks ago, de la Renta publicly embraced the talented but troubled designer, inviting Galliano to help out with his latest collection.
The collaboration seems to have worked wonders for both men. The collection —de la Renta's freshest in years — maintains the DNA of the brand while Galliano's work at Dior shines through in the silhouettes, shapes and styling.
It was rumored that Galliano was backstage, where no reporters were allowed. He did not make a public appearance with de la Renta, although it was rumored he might. Fashion insiders are wondering if this was a one-time collaboration or whether de la Renta is grooming Galliano to take over.
Who knows? But the music from the classic movie Casablanca, which was featured in the runway show, might offer a clue.
Remember the ending? Rick tells Louie, "I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."