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.

Oscar de la Renta: Ocean Liner Chic

Godfrey Deeny
February 17th, 2010 @ 1:50 PM - New York

The next time they remake one of those classic Hollywood ocean liner movies like "The Lady Eve," but in color not black and white, and with Charlize Theron in the title role not Barbara Stanwyck, well then Oscar de la Renta has the very collection to dress the whole film.

In a thoroughly elegant fall 2010 collection presented Wednesday, Feb. 17, on Park Avenue, de la Renta opened with a striking double-breasted alpaca coat with dramatic fox fur border that, the sort of look they will roll down the liner’s boarding plank to welcome.

The designer also managed to distill references from both 1930s Art Deco – like, a wonderful gold printed silk faille coat with a stain glass window pattern - and 1980s glamour – big-shouldered platinum lame columns - into these clothes.

The mood was patrician throughout, but never overly stiff, thanks in part thanks to some clever styling, like using checkerboard tights and tam o'shanter fox and mink caps. This designer’s response to the recession is clear; when the going get tough the chic get classier.

Now then, for a card playing scene in first class, the beautiful gold digger can wear the splendid olivine silk faille dress with dexterously placed vertical darts, and for the captain’s cocktail when the ship docks in St. Tropez, a remarkable point d’esprit tiered dress.

De la Renta’s color palette was also uncannily good, as was his astute ability to mix striking contrasting hues: cinnamon with gold or violet with rust.

There was the odd duff note; Russian model Natasha Poly clearly looked cross about wearing an overly tight pair of embroidered bullfighter’s pants, understandably as they made her look like she had gained 10 pounds. And piling on makeup on beautiful young models with the average age of about 20 is never a smart idea. It does not render them more sophisticated, just more tired looking.

However, these were minor enough kinks in an assured display from de la Renta, uptown America’s classiest designer. From which dock does the Cunard Cruise liner leave?

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