With an aesthetic at once nostalgic and impossibly chic, Oscar de la Renta’s preternatural ability to make antiquated styles relevant in a modern context is continually inspiring – as are his presentations each season. As a terrible storm erupted outside before his S/S 2011 presentation, de la Renta’s immaculate ensembles for the new season sailed onto the catwalk, appearing larger than life. Though not outré in any way, de la Renta has the ability to create garments so irresistibly perfect and crafted with such couture-like precision, that they take on a super-real, costume-like quality. Such was the case with this collection for spring, starting with a Fifties-inspired nude silk-linen coat with embroidered yellow blooms about the hem, paired with a matching yellow ostrich tote brimming with flowers. From there, the collection quickly moved into rosy summery hues, floral prints and ultra-feminine dresses, all to the tune of old juke-box favourites ‘Only You’ and ‘The great pretender’. The Spanish influence de la Renta explored extensively last spring was subtly reintroduced through chantilly lace ruffles and detailing on pretty cocktail dresses and later, exquisite ball-gowns. Once the floor-sweeping dresses began to file out, there was no looking back. A flurry of dreamy chiffon, sculptural tulle, silk faille, crepe de chine and milles feuille lace and organza ruffles drifted out in gowns of contrasting black and white, muted gold, peony pink and lime that brought to mind Audrey Hepburn’s fresh-faced Sabrina. While the extreme lady-like looks on the catwalk today may not be particularly wearable for those among us who don’t frequent gala events and balls, or have a trust-fund, it is always an incredible, strangely cinematic experience to witness an Oscar de la Renta show – and not just because Anna Wintour, Andre Leon Talley, Grace Coddington and Sarah Jessica Parker are sitting front row. As our old friend Keats once noted, a thing of beauty is a joy forever.
Once the floor-sweeping dresses began to file out, there was no looking back.