Just as the VIP room at Studio 54 consisted of a few crates in a basement, so does the workshop space where Oscar de la Renta shows his collection — rough-hewn and well-worn, albeit with a spectacular view of Manhattan — draw a crowd that includes Justin Timberlake, Nicki Minaj, Barbara Walters, and Valentino (the latter two actually may be authentic Studio veterans.) The clothes, no surprise, are Oscar-worthy (pun intended) and despite my best efforts to turn up my nose at these fantasias and the price tags they entail, I am half in love with the garment that closes the show, a puffy princess of the finest silk made to look like muslin, trimmed with scarlet ribbons, which might have been worn by a wan aristocrat heading for the guillotine.
I remain firmly on the opposite side of that historical moment (though even I must admit that at certain points the French revolution maybe got a bit out of hand.) Which is why I think I will be in a snide, mocking mood at Marchesa, where the gowns are unabashedly meant for the kinds of stellar events that most people — even those in the one tenth of the population that control 90 percent of the wealth — don’t get invited to. Then again, who wouldn’t like to see these creations, frothy as ice-cream sodas, floating down a red carpet, even if it’s only on TV? (One hopes that your favorite movie star will eschew the examples trimmed with fat fringe that looks more like noodles than whipped cream.) It should also be pointed out that a very similar version of the flapper-ish beaded dress was seen earlier this week at a presentation at Chelsea Piers from a label called Tribune Standard, and was equally luscious, came in a surprisingly pleasing grass-green, and had a far friendlier price point.
Not just a pair of Fannings — the ever-gleeful Elle and the soberer-by-comparison Dakota — are at Rodarte, but also Taylor Swift in full ice-queen mode, and — wait for it (like you don’t know this already) — Beyoncé, with a headful of artfully disarranged beige tresses and clad in some sort of unfortunate Vera Wang romper suit. Though I think the fashions on the Rodarte runway are lovely — who doesn’t like square necks and sunflowers? — others in the hall — rabid Rodarte-philes, all — confess in hushed tones after the show that they are a teeny bit disappointed in the offerings, and in one shocking case, an editor friend of mine cites the puckery green leather top, in my eyes a real misstep, as the only thing she really loved in the whole show. Go figure.
On the other hand, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of disagreement about what’s good, and not so good at Theyskens' Theory, an improbable pairing (Olivier and Andrew, not the jeans and deconstructed faux Chanel that dominate the runway.) In any case, the top halves of the outfits hold whatever interest the weary fashion audience can muster midweek: interestingly cut tweed jackets, destined for the fifth floor of Bergdorf Goodman, and a rather amusing sweater with a big bite out of the back, as if a particularly voracious animal, who doesn’t care about her weight and is just out for a good time, has chomped down on it.