Oscar de la Renta made headlines last month when he invited John Galliano to be a designer-in-residence at his studio for three weeks. It wasn't long after the news broke that people began wondering if the disgraced former Dior designer would be working on de la Renta's Fall collection. We got our answer tonight. De la Renta came out for his bow, as he always does, but Galliano was in the building. When his PR chief was asked if Galliano had worked on the collection, she demurred, saying, "Well, he is backstage." There was that, and then there were the clothes themselves. Certain looks seemed very much to bear the Englishman's hand, especially the opening jackets with their draped necklines and flaring hips; there was something of Dior's classic Bar silhouette in them. Among the other clues that Galliano was in the house: The marcelled locks and deeply shaded, greasy eyes (one of four separate hair and makeup looks) were familiar from his Paris days.
Then again, other pieces seemed more like vintage de la Renta. The 80-year-old will mark his 50th year of designing clothes in New York in 2013, so there isn't much territory that he hasn't covered. Nonetheless, it's safe to say that he owns looks like this show's white-ribbon-embroidered black party dress. The exaggerated toile prints and jacquards said America, not la France.
The real question, though, isn't who did this and who did that, but rather, was it all any good? In some ways, it felt a good deal more conservative than de la Renta's Spring collection, which boasted latex skirts and tops as well as evening shorts. On the other hand, nothing last season came close to the wow factor of the two grand silk faille ball gowns with gold bullion embroidery (one shocking pink, the other mulberry) that closed the show. In theory, Galliano's residency is almost up, but if there's one thing for certain, tonight wasn't the end of the intrigue.