First things first: John Galliano did NOT make a cameo appearance at the end of Oscar de la Renta’s runway.
Ever since news broke that de la Renta had invited Galliano into his studio as a ‘designer in residence’ (which is what, exactly - a high-status work experience placement?), everyone on the scene has wondered what it might signify. Could de la Renta be preparing to retire, and if so, would he hand his figurative fabric shears over to Galliano? Would Galliano really resume a public professional life, even as he pursued wrongful dismissal litigation against former employer Christian Dior? And what about all the New York Jews?
Despite Galliano’s presence ‘in the building’, according to somebody who would know, Tuesday’s show did little to clarify the terms of this working relationship. What it did accomplish was to present some awfully gorgeous clothes.
The collection moved from daywear (slim-profile skirt suits with nipped-waist blazers - sound familiar?) through a global nomad moment of velvet trousers and embroidered silk capes. A navy velvet gown signaled the arrival of evening (and reminded us of Carrie Bradshaw’s blue Dolce & Gabbana fashion-show coat, only more refined). Scaled-up toile prints peered out of gold-embroidered skirts and dresses.
Then, blammo: gown time. This is classic territory for Mr de la Renta to come out and play, with all the tricks at his well-resourced disposal. A draped peplum gown in bright purple resembled an orchid on the runway. A shocking pink, full-skirted silk faille gown with metal scrollwork perfectly encapsulated the lavish beauty of de la Renta’s approach.
Although Galliano didn't show his face, he didn't have to. His hand was evident in the bias-cut gowns, in the tall, mast-like hats crowning some models' heads, and in a certain beauty reminiscent of the dark-lipped, finger-curled-hair days at Dior.
Maybe de la Renta or Galliano didn't think it appropriate for the latter to take any public credit. Maybe Galliano wasn't ready. But if he continues deploying his talents to such transporting ends, then wherever and whenever he decides to take his next bow, he could only be met with applause.