Even though Oscar de la Renta handpicked his successor, the brand, which is favorite of Texas society women, seemed to lose some snap after his death in 2014 when former Nina Ricci designer Peter Copping assumed the top job. While de la Renta gowns are still among the favorites at the big Houston balls, increasingly best-dressed gala goers have turned to such designers as Naeem Khan, Monique Lhuillier, Marchesa, and Christian Siriano.
The de la Renta team seemed to recognize the problem by luring back designers Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia as co-creative directors. The duo had worked under de la Renta — Kim was there for 12 years, including a stint as design director; Garcia for six years — before leaving to launch a well-received label called Monse. Kim also joined Carolina Herrera as senior vice president for design in 2015 after being passed over for the top job at de la Renta. When she announced her return, Herrera sued, noting Kim had signed an agreement not to work for any direct competitors for six months after leaving the company.
A New York judge eventually sided with Kim, making the debut of the de la Renta fall collection at New York Fashion Week one of the most highly anticipated and most dramatic shows.
While the duo captured some of the magic of the de la Renta label with their first collection, the general consensus is they're not there yet.The designer's "excess-is-best" philosophy seemed missing as the new designers concentrated on '50s-looking ankle-length dresses with poufy skirts, mundane trouser and top combos in contrasting neon shades, and underwhelming basic black tuxedos for nighttime wear. And there wasn't a single wow-inducing gown, although a shiny red evening gown with a pointy bustline came close.
However, some exciting looks gave a hint of what might be in store in the future under the new regime. A black-and-white fur skirt with an asymmetrical black top exuded the de la Renta DNA while a floral red and silver pants ensemble with a bodice overflowing with red flowers indicates that, indeed, everything is coming up roses at the fashion house — or may be soon.