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It's impossible to talk about Oscar de la Renta's fall '13 show without talking about John Galliano. For the old-school brand that's surprisingly savvy about social media, it was an incredibly strategic — albeit controversial — move to invite the disgraced designer into the fold, drumming up hype and coverage for its recent show. Would Galliano sit front row? How much of an influence would he have?
As it turns out, Galliano did not sit at the show (he was backstage during the entire presentation), but he did seem to have made his mark on the collection — whether real or perceived. Slicked-back hair, blood-stained makeup, elaborate gowns in a New Look silhouette, and the use of cloche-style hats and hoods all screamed touched by Galliano.
The practicality and polish of each piece, though, was all de la Renta, and we could as easily envision these pantsuits and dresses on Upper East Side blue bloods as on a younger generation of mix-and-matchers (like the brand's own Erika Bearman, a.k.a. @oscarprgirl). Galliano is undoubtedly a genius, and with his finesse and Oscar's foundation, the aesthetic result was a showstopping one, that's for sure.
And yet, there was an obvious problem with the coupling: The show became more about Galliano than about ODLR, and much of the conversation around it focused on why Galliano contributed more than about the namesake designer — it was the 50th anniversary of his arrival to the fashion scene, after all, a topic that's unfortunately been overshadowed by a guest contributor with a lot of baggage.
As the social media pros on the Oscar team are very much aware, it's very difficult to separate personality from product, especially when the personality in question is such a big one, and the product is such an expensive one. And though it was a spectacular collection, we're not positive if the net gain was worth it for de la Renta.
But what do you think? Can you let bygones be bygones and appreciate the aesthetic mastery of the collection, or does something still feel off about it all?
Photo: Maria Valentino/MCV Photo