Joyous. That’s how Natalie Massenet of Net-a-Porter described Oscar de la Renta’s Spring/Summer 2008 collection to Alex Bolen, the company’s CEO, after today’s show. The setting in an Upper East Side church, the lovely dresses in bright gorgeous hues, and music from a band-cum-gospel choir culminated in a show-stopper from this legendary designer. Roger Federer, Victoria Beckham, Anna Wintour and others were there to soak it all in.
With utterly beautiful dresses targeted squarely at the ladies who lunch crowd and their daughters (many of whom were in the audience), Oscar showed that he operates in a market where you don’t have to change things too much from season to season in order to make your mark. He leaves the sometimes obsessive trend-setting (and following) to younger designers and focuses instead on delivering collections that delight his core customers. The aesthetic ranged from minimalist long lean cut dresses in a single shade of red to beautiful prints and ethnic patterns, giving every lady in the house something to covet, regardless of her preferred style choices.
After the show, Christopher Sherman of Fashion Television asked me what I thought about Posh Spice being invited to sit front and centre with the likes of Graydon Carter of Vanity Fair and Suzy Menkes of the IHT. I told him that while Victoria Beckham’s aesthetic and style (and antics!) might not be a natural fit for Oscar, it is still great for press to have someone so closely followed by the mainstream media to be part of the event. Oscar can afford to do this because he is so absolutely clear about his target market and because he is an established brand. The same might not be true for a brand that is just beginning to find its feet.
It’s also worth saying that I was delighted to meet Mr. Bolen after the show and learn that he is a dedicated reader of the Business of Fashion. That explains the gracious email I received from the Oscar PR team in the summer, inviting me to attend today. It’s great that even respected fashion business people at major houses are taking the time to read what we have to say over here at the BoF.