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Suzy Menkes

Vogue International Editor Suzy Menkes is the best-known fashion journalist in the world. After 25 years commenting on fashion for the International Herald Tribune (rebranded recently as The International New York Times), Suzy Menkes now writes exclusively for Vogue online, covering fashion worldwide.

Stretching out for modern freedom

Body con loosens up at Oscar de La Renta and Narciso Rodriguez

18 Февраля 2016

Oscar de la Renta, fall 2016 ready-to-wear
Oscar de la Renta, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Oscar de la Renta: Stretching the Ball Gown 

It was the word “techno” that stopped me in my tracks at Oscar de la Renta'a show. Techno? Techno! From a house that was built on uptown glamour with its late founder always partial to a ball gown? But current designer Peter Copping made a smart move.

He kept the silhouettes and overall images from the Oscar years — especially the taut sweater with a girlish full skirt. That ultimately led to floral patterned, full- skirted gowns. The contents of the show might have stayed traditional, as a mink collar or a lace skirt, but Copping introduced stretch and modernist fabrics, such as the “techno” effects used both for canvas and cotton cocktail dresses. Even corsets seemed to have a soft touch and there had clearly been internal work to get rid of traditional boning.

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Oscar de la Renta, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Oscar de la Renta, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Oscar de la Renta, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Oscar de la Renta, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Oscar de la Renta, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Oscar de la Renta, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Oscar de la Renta, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Oscar de la Renta, fall 2016 ready-to-wear


“Versatility,” said Copping backstage, where clients traditional and younger gathered to congratulate him. The designer explained to me that apparently gowns were, in fact, made in two separate pieces: swimsuit-style top and skirt slim or wide below. It is smart to adapt the tenets of haute couture and bring them into the 21st century. The show itself could have used some more casual way of presenting the outfits. But I hope that this idea of fusing reality and dream will find enthusiasts among red carpet stars who deserve modern comfort along with the silver-screen glamour.

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Oscar de la Renta, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Oscar de la Renta, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Oscar de la Renta, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Oscar de la Renta, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Oscar de la Renta, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Oscar de la Renta, fall 2016 ready-to-wear


Narciso Rodriguez: Loosening Up 

It is a long stretch from taut, body-conscious dresses tottering down the runway to the soft clothes on a mustard palette from Narciso Rodriguez, who had swapped body con for just a discreet cut-away slit to show a little leg. “Fluidity” is a fashionable word of the moment, whether people are talking about gender or other once rigid boundaries.

Narciso Rodriguez
Narciso Rodriguez

It was as if Narciso had sensed this change in society and transferred it to his fashion. I liked this switch from sexy to sensual, because showing little is so often more suggestive than full disclosure. The cut of a loose-fitting plissé wool wrap coat that opened the collection was graceful and the same effect continued to jackets and soft suede dresses. The flip of one leg from a triangular cut in the hemline was a consistent element — although it is always difficult to decide when repetition moves from being a signature to a bore.

I admire Narciso for the journey his has taken from the sensuality of his Cuban origins to New York sleek and chic. With just one caveat: On the very night of his show, Selma Blair appeared on television in one of his fitted, curvy, short dresses. The designer needs to find a thread that links his separate visions.

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Narciso Rodriguez, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Narciso Rodriguez, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Narciso Rodriguez, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Narciso Rodriguez, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Narciso Rodriguez, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Narciso Rodriguez, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Narciso Rodriguez, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Narciso Rodriguez, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Narciso Rodriguez, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Narciso Rodriguez, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Narciso Rodriguez, fall 2016 ready-to-wear

Narciso Rodriguez, fall 2016 ready-to-wear


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