As the models wearing smart striped suits, high-waisted skirts and tailored coats stepped out in elegant heels, there was a sigh of relief from the line-up of loyal clients at the Oscar de la Renta show.
Socialites, philanthropists, and famous TV personality Barbara Walters had all come to see the new man at the helm after the passing of de la Renta last year. And Peter Copping, the British-born designer lured from Nina Ricci in Paris to take control, got a resounding thumbs-up.
“Very respectful,” said Mercedes Bass, jiggling her emerald earrings as she picked out her winners, while Nancy Kissinger had already marked potential purchases.
Backstage, Copping said, “I didn’t want it to be an homage, but Oscar felt very present.”
All fashion ‘takeovers’ tend to start by not rocking the boat. Alexander McQueen’s madcap inventions for Givenchy is the only time I can think of a deliberate upheaval.
So the new designer made chic daywear that would not frighten away existing clients: a jacket with mink cuffs or a check tweed coat. Missing was the floral prettiness shown by Copping at his Paris house, but the pieces were graceful and seemed beautifully made.
Since Taylor Swift and model Karly Kloss were also front row, the designer made a more youthful offering in a short ballerina dress. Although grand gowns swept the catwalk as the show progressed.
This outing did seem like an homage, with Copping “not putting himself first” as Mercedes Bass said. Yet, recently, Oscar himself had introduced some striking and modernising elements, such as dayglow colours and flower jewellery as intense decoration.
However noble it is to follow a great American fashion hero, the new designer must start to fill up himself those high-heeled shoes.