After a couple of seasons of toned-done looks that matched the nation's toned-down spirit, designers are returning to the luxe life for fall. As Mercedes-Benz fashion week draws to a close, two American masters — Oscar de la Renta and Ralph Lauren — showcased opulent collections that highlight rich fabrics, furs and ornate pieces of jewelry.
Oscar de la Renta: From Russia With Love
There's nothing understated about the first looks in de la Renta's collection. An Ottoman jacquard jacket with red fox skirt and a silver fox print coat trimmed in fur and matching dress are an eclectic mix of colors, patterns and styles with a vaguely Doctor Zhivago theme. Such looks seem to be aimed at the wives and mistresses of Russian billionaire oligarchs with the means to purchase such opulence.
After that, the collection settles down a bit, with distinctive daytime dresses and tweed suits that sparkle with woven metallic thread for his core American clientele.
No de la Renta collection is complete without a slew of killer gowns. This time, the selection is unusually varied, from a chocolate velvet gown with a plunging neckline to an off-the-shoulder gown in a multi-color madras print.
Sequined gowns in a patchwork paisley print and iridescent blue are likely headed for the red carpet, along with a stunning gown embroidered from neck to toe in silver bugle beads.
Ralph Lauren: Mysterious Mood
After evoking a casual western theme for spring, Ralph Lauren is going formal for fall, with a collection that emphasizes menswear tailoring, art deco jewelry and Chinese embroidery. The theme of the tightly edited collection seems to be a mysterious temptress, who is probably up to no good, from a 1930s movie, set in China.
Adding to the sense of drama: Many of the outfits are all black, with a tiny jolt of color in a red lacquered heel or a piece of art deco jewelry attached to a belt.
The women wear the pants in this collection, with trousers of all types — slim or pleated; cut to the body or looser; cuffed or straight, pinstripe or plain black. There's even a pair of velvet jodhpurs paired with a motorcycle jacket.
Lauren also offers several variations of the tuxedo, from the classic dinner jacket to one with embroidered dragons, for his female clientele.
Several evening gown and dresses are adorned with silver beads in intricate art deco patterns. And for the woman who wants to make a really dramatic entrance, Lauren closed the collection with an embellished black halter gown and hood framing the head in silver beads.
On the front row, David Lauren (Ralph's son) and fiancee Lauren Bush, who just happened to be dressed head-to-toe in black, including stockings.
"I didn't even know that was part of the theme," she said, with a laugh.