NY Fashion Week Spring 2018 Houston
New York Fashion Week

Sparkling fashion week salute to Oscar de la Renta sets the stage for MFAH retrospective

Sparkling salute to Oscar de la Renta sets stage for MFAH exhibition

Oscar de la Renta look 52 spring 2018
Oscar de la Renta shades of carmine ombre tulle strapless gown. Photo courtesy of Oscar de la Renta
Oscar de la Renta look 11 spring 2018
Oscar de la Renta ivory merino crewneck sweater with embroidered sequin love letter, pink cropped trousers. Photo courtesy of Oscar de la Renta
Oscar de la Renta look 38 spring 2018
Oscar de la Renta ivory tulle gown with Oscar jumbled letter sequin emboridery. Photo courtesy of Oscar de la Renta
Oscar de la Renta look 6 spring 2018
Oscar de la Renta indigo selvedge jacket, indigo denim pant with white splatter paint, white mink coat with black Signature sequin embroidery. Photo courtesy of Oscar de la Renta
Oscar de la Renta look 14 spring 2018
Oscar de la Renta ivory stretch georgette column gown with rainbow splatter print and black satin strap. Photo courtesy of Oscar de la Renta
Oscar de la Renta look 37  spring 2018
Oscar de la Renta navy gazaar strapless gown with gold-dripped paint embroidery. Photo courtesy of Oscar de la Renta
Oscar de la Renta look 39 spring 2018
Oscar de la Renta single breasted jacket and skirt, white cotton T-shirt with "Oscar" jumbled letter sequined embroidery,  Photo courtesy of Oscar de la Renta
Oscar de la Renta look 40 spring 2018
Oscar de la Renta ivory chiffon, organza, and tulle-tiered gown with Signature print, gunmetal Signature log belt, painted velvet pump. Photo courtesy of Oscar de la Renta
Oscar de la Renta look 25 spring 2018
Oscar de la Renta marigold stretch wool gabardine pant, cotton and silk crew neck sweater with tulip intarsia, ivory astrikan  coat with black fox tulip motif.   Photo courtesy of Oscar de la Renta
Oscar de la Renta look 49 spring 2018
Oscar de la REnta spinel dip dyed tulle gown with spiral seams. Photo courtesy of Oscar de la Renta
Oscar de la Renta look 9 spring 2018
Oscar de la Renta ruby stretch wool gaberdine single breasted jacket, blush stretch woold gaberdine culottes, white supima cotton T-shirt with "Oscar"sequin embroidery. Photo courtesy of Oscar de la Renta
Oscar de la Renta look 52 spring 2018
Oscar de la Renta look 11 spring 2018
Oscar de la Renta look 38 spring 2018
Oscar de la Renta look 6 spring 2018
Oscar de la Renta look 14 spring 2018
Oscar de la Renta look 37  spring 2018
Oscar de la Renta look 39 spring 2018
Oscar de la Renta look 40 spring 2018
Oscar de la Renta look 25 spring 2018
Oscar de la Renta look 49 spring 2018
Oscar de la Renta look 9 spring 2018

With a major retrospective of the life and career of Oscar de la Renta set to open at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston next month, designers Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia set the stage with a spring/summer 2018 collection at New York Fashion Week that pays tribute to the legendary designer while modernizing the brand for a new clientele.

It's a tricky balancing act, but I'm guessing the master designer, who passed away in 2014, would have approved of the direction the new kids at ODLR are taking the brand, even if he might have been a little taken aback at having his name in script on dresses and spelled out in sequined jumbled letters on T-shirts and gowns.

Kim and Garcia worked for de la Renta for many years before his death and helped to create the attention-getting gown autographed with the designer's name on the hem that Sarah Jessica Parker wore to the Met Costume Institute Gala a few months before his death. It was Parker's idea — not de la Renta's — to have his name on her gown, the fashion house's co-creative directors told the Hollywood Reporter.  "Oscar wasn't comfortable with it, he didn't want his name on (the Met Gala dress)," said Kim.

But that moment obviously shaped this collection, along with handwritten notes to the designer from young starlets like Emma Watson and Elle Fanning, which the duo told reporters had touched them. Several dresses, an oversized shirt, crewneck sweaters, and even a mink coat are embroidered in de la Renta's cursive writing with excerpts from those letters, along, in some cases, with a sequined heart.

The de la Renta show has always been a fashion week favorite for its elegance and high style, and the tradition continued on a top floor at Sotheby's art auction house on New York's Upper East side. Models descended on a moving escalator before making their runway walk past an eclectic crowd that included longtime society clients as well singer Nicki Minaj in a $19,000 hooded fur from the fall/winter collection that was more suited for a blizzard than balmy 80-degree weather.

The collection opened with a paint-splattered dress — perhaps a nod to the museum and the art of fashion?—along with several jeans and tops in the same motif. It's the first time longtime fashion observers could remember a de la Renta show with this much blue jean fabric, although one denim-clad model had a white mink coat slung over her shoulder.

Daytime suits— once a de la Renta staple for his ladies who lunch — were rare on the runway. Instead, the collection features cropped trousers and loose jackets in bold colors for today's stylish working woman. While longtime customers may be surprised by the change in direction in day wear, they can find comfort in the brand's evening gowns.

The new collection includes gowns with sequined embroidery that resembles dripping paint, a cream-colored column gown splattered with colors of the rainbow, tulle gowns enveloped in swirly ribbon patterns, and a strapless princess gown in cascading ombré tulle that drew gasps of delight from the audience when the model came down the escalator.

De la Renta has always been a go-to designer for the Texas society set, and this collection should keep them clamoring for more, particularly since the MFAH Grand Gala Ball on October 6 celebrates the exhibition, The Glamour and Romance of Oscar de la Renta, which opens at the museum on October 8. It should be quite a fashion show.