Whether or not you live the life that demands an Oscar de la Renta wardrobe, his collections are a delight to the eyes: flawlessly executed, poised and urbane, with just the right balance of mature charm and youthful exuberance. Skeptics who doubt his generation-spanning skills need only glance over the front row of his spring collection, where Mandy Moore, Serena Williams, Ashley Olsen, and Jessica Simpson oohed and aahed as much as the society ladies who grew up on Oscar.

If anybody is going to go bold in a season of demure, sometimes lukewarm fashion, let it be de la Renta. Tropical climates are second nature to him, and that shows in his deep, rich hues: chocolate, red, orange, and pink, played off white, navy, and beige. New textures, like crochet, and whimsical touches—like pompoms trimming a white bouclé dress—gave his clean, classic silhouettes a casual youthfulness. His slim shirtdresses and light-as-foam nubby suits solved any daytime dilemmas. And when it comes to eveningwear, no one knows more about giving women what they want. A coolly elegant strapless dress with an undulating pouf skirt? A high-drama pink tulle and feather concoction? Or a simply stunning white-and-gold Empire-waist column, worn with flat gold sandals? In Oscar's world, there's no such thing as the wrong choice.