Oscar de la Renta's designs cross international borders

A BIG-NAME AMERICAN IN PARIS

March 28, 1991|By Pat Morgan | Pat Morgan,Knight-Ridder News Service

Paris -- On more than one occasion, fashion insiders have suggested that Oscar de la Renta's designs reflect a decidedly European flavor, despite his company being based in New York.

It is a suggestion that makes the designer -- who claims to observe no fashion distinctions along geographical boundaries -- bristle.

"Why can't American fashion be international like all other fashion? My customers have the same fashion needs no matter where they live."

That may well be so, but it is also true that Mr. de la Renta's designs do seem more at home on the larger-than-life runways of the Cour Carre du Louvre than in the much smaller ballroom of New York's Plaza Hotel, a notion underscored this week when de la Renta became the first big-name American design er to bring his runway show to Paris.

Judging by the positive reception the collection received, his experiment was a success.

Admitting to feeling a bit overwhelmed by the larger space and the more theatrical atmosphere of the French presentations, Mr. de la Renta made some adjustments for his show here. At the Plaza, where he will also stage a show next month during New York fashion week, he usually hires 18 models and sends them down the catwalk one or two at a time. In Paris, he hired 35 manne

quins; often six or eight would be on the runway at once.

He also expanded the line -- most notably with a group of knitwear that included sweater dresses and knit leggings -- and jazzed up the accompanying music to help the show fit in with the more extravagant French productions.

In New York, where sportswear specialists reign, Mr. de la Renta's romantic, ornate designs and bold accessories sometimes feel a bit too much. In Paris, they can seem almost understated.

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