Fashion Week: Carnations, espadrilles at Oscar de la Renta

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

NEW YORK (AP) — The Associated Press is all over New York Fashion Week, from the runways to celebrities as eight days of spring previews entered their sixth day Tuesday.



Guests entering the Oscar de la Renta show were pleasantly surprised to find a single red carnation on their seats. For designer Peter Copping, who was presenting only his second collection as the company's artistic director, it was a Parisian tradition that was worth bringing to New York.

"It's something that was done when I worked in Paris for Christian Lacroix," Copping said in a backstage interview. "And I think it's nice to bring a little of that Parisian way of things here to New York. I think it makes the house stand alone, and that's important these days."

Also, the flower fit in with the show's Hispanic theme. "This is the flower that gets thrown to the bullfighters in the bullring," Copping noted.

The designer said he drew inspiration for his show at the Hispanic Society of America in Harlem, where he viewed paintings and textiles that he knew de la Renta, who died in October 2014, would have loved.

Hispanic culture was "obviously something that was very close to Oscar's heart, and I just really wanted to think about things that Oscar was passionate about," Copping said.

There was a carnation print in the collection — in red and white — and the colors of ruby and black were prominent, along with bottle green, saffron and seafoam, among others. Copping did not stint on the intricate embroidery and fabric work — especially with lace — that his predecessor was famous for.

The designer did introduce one thing, though, that was totally new for the house: the Spanish espadrille, a casual shoe that Copping paired with some quite elaborate dresses.

"I thought that would give the whole collection a different twist, just to have the espadrille, which is THE Spanish shoe," Copping said. "I just thought it would be younger and fresher."

—Jocelyn Noveck



The designing duo at Rodarte, sisters Laura and Kate Mulleavy, always draw heavily on their past experiences when they design their collections: their childhood in California, their favorite paintings at a certain museum (as in a memorable Impressionist-based collection), or specific music that inspired them.

For their latest collection, the sisters decided to draw on poetry.

"It was funny, we were listening to records and thinking about poetry," Laura Mulleavy said backstage. "Kate and I just had this natural thought to do a collection about poets over the ages. Emily Dickinson, songwriters like Dylan or Leonard Cohen — we just melded it all together."

The elements that kept cropping up when designing, Mulleavy said, were roses, lace, and a certain color palette (black, white, burgundy, brown, dusty pink.) The lace recalled Dickinson; tweed accents perhaps more Leonard Cohen, Mulleavy said. Another key defining element was the music of Electric Light Orchestra.

The clothes were indeed heavy on lace, but many were also much flashier than either Dickinson or Cohen likely would have favored. There was lots of beading, some sequin work, and generous helpings of fringe. Some outfits had sort of an Old West saloon vibe, particularly those with black lace. There was also velvet, silk chiffon, and — for those poets toiling away in drafty attics, perhaps — some luscious Mongolian lamb jackets.

—Jocelyn Noveck



That's the word from Vera Wang, who made her point in tiny black bandeaus and bra tops, short shorts, sky high heels and plenty of sexy shoulders, if shoulders are your thing.

She included a pop of red, mesh and sheer elements, and a dose of gold sequins, with just a touch of mink in a mini-vest and spiky ostrich plumes on shorts, boy shirts and a halter-neck dress serving up those shoulders as cutouts did elsewhere.

Wang said backstage after the show that she drew inspiration from the duality of life, the pleasures of the imagination a bit of mystery.

"There is that side that's very, um, not prim but controlled, and then there's a side where you let go, you allow yourself to have a bit of fantasy in your life. So in a way it was a rift, not literally, of 'Belle de Jour,' the movie."

That would be the Catherine Deneuve classic directed by Luis Bunuel, telling the story of a repressed French housewife who becomes a prostitute.

Prostitution aside, Wang knows how to create sexy. The mighty high shoes, on the chunky side with a lug, sporty sole, were a big part of that effort, she said.

"How am I doing? Better now that no one tripped," Wang smiled. "I wanted them to feel sexy."

With Kylie Jenner on her front row, Wang considered the Kardashian-Jenner family influence on fashion today.

"They're celebrities but at the same time they not just embrace, they adore fashion," she said, "and I think that has had a very big influence on people."

—By Leanne Italie and Nicole Evatt



Serena Williams says her recent U.S. Open defeat was not a loss, but a win and a learning experience — and that she's happy for the opponent, Roberta Vinci, who derailed her quest for a Grand Slam.

"We should be happy for each other, you know what I mean?" Williams said in an interview Tuesday after presenting her second collection for her fashion line, the Serena Williams Signature Statement Collection for the HSN network, at a high-profile runway show that drew influential Vogue editor Anna Wintour and other fashion heavyweights — not to mention rapper Drake. "We gotta build up each other. We can't be angry."

"I mean, I won four Grand Slam (tournaments) in a row, and got to the semis in another one, and I've done that twice," Williams said. "I mean how many people have done that? So, yeah, it wasn't a loss for me, it was a win and a learning experience. And I tried hard. Unfortunately the girl I played just outplayed me that day, you know ... She probably deserved it. And I am happy for her."

Williams, who won last year's U.S. Open as well as the next three Grand Slam tournaments after that, also said designing was a great break from the pressure of her tennis career. "I love what I do obviously, but I also sometimes need a break from that — and I love fashion," she said. "It's something I have a passion for."

Not that there wasn't also pressure coming from the fashion world. Williams said that this time, she really felt pressure to deliver.

Her new collection — shown to a soundtrack that included several of Drake's songs — had a very contemporary vibe, with lots of fringed leather and suede, in skirts, jackets and dresses. (She herself was wearing a revealing fringed leather skirt that showed tiny short shorts underneath.) Highlights included a sleek, tiered black fringed dress; a black gown with a line of fringe down the back; and a short, deep green bomber jacket.

Earlier, on the red carpet, Williams tried to explain how she combined designing with her demanding life as an athlete.

"Honestly, I don't know," she said. "In between matches ... we have this great group chat, and we just talk all day about the designs. We send pictures. We send notes. And technology has been able to make life a lot easier!"

So, has she been able to sit down and breathe, since her final U.S. Open match last week?

"In a couple of hours I'll be able to breathe," she laughed.

—Jocelyn Noveck and Nicole Evatt



The luxury brand Coach celebrated 75 years in business Tuesday, not just with bags and shoes, but with bright cowgirl leather and prairie flower frocks for women.

Yes, actual clothing to go along with all those drool-worthy accessories you, your mom and your daughter may have at home, or wish you did.

The company has shown smallish clothing collections before at New York Fashion Week, but this was the first full runway spectacle, staged on the elevated High Line among old rail tracks once used by meatpackers but now a favorite park spot filled with wildflowers and high grasses.

In his fourth collection for Coach, British creative director Stuart Vevers acknowledged this season's mixed-print dresses and leather jackets were aimed at broadening interest in the brand's clothing among young women. These cowgirls were intended to be of the surf, skate and punk variety.

So when did Debbie Harry first encounter Coach? She was joined among the company's guests by Christina Ricci, Ciara, Mariel Hemingway, Zoe Kravitz, Chloe Grace Moretz and a range of other celebrities.

"I can't even remember, it was so long ago," Harry responded. "I think it's brilliant that it has evolved."

Does she buy a lot of Coach?

"I would say that I buy a lot of clothes," she laughed without committing.

—Leanne Italie