All the trappings of the big fashion show were there: models, music, and lots and lots of people. But to one of the world’s most famous designers, all that fuss was invisible. When it was time for the models to hit the runway to present his next collection at New York Fashion Week, the only thing Oscar de la Renta saw was the clothes.
Watching the legendary 79-year-old backstage Tuesday night as he prepped the models moments before sending them down the runway, it was clear that de la Renta is virtually immune to the circus and hype that accompanies New York Fashion Week, the twice-annual previews of designer clothing.
Never mind the hundreds of tastemakers in the audience from around the world, from buyers and journalists to celebrities and loyal customers, a group that on this night included Vogue editor Anna Wintour, a close friend. Never mind the scores of assistants backstage trying to carry out his vision. For de la Renta, despite decades in the business, each show commands his total attention as a personal unveiling of a labor of love.
For the 15 minutes it took to parade his fall collection on the catwalk, with a reporter from The Associated Press observing by his side, de la Renta sat on a plain stool just out of sight from the crowd, carefully examining each look and speaking to no one. It’s a process he’s gone through literally hundreds of times — with two, three or sometimes four fashion shows a year — since launching his label in 1965. But it never gets old.