Ralph Lauren isn't the only designer in town who can put on a show with a capital "S." Oscar de la Renta left the Bryant Park tents for the tonier environs of a decommissioned Georgian church at 583 Park Avenue this season, and hired the blissed-out choir-cum-high-school-jazz-orchestra the Polyphonic Spree to perform its feel-good hits. What's more, he had Roger Federer in his front row, fresh off the tennis ace's fourth U.S. Open win.

The collection itself more than lived up to any heightened expectations the change of scenery might have produced. De la Renta touched upon several of Spring's developing trends—the safari jacket, tribal patterns and beading, strong color—without feeling trendy in the least. Classic is more like it, be it the perfect red wool sheath, a stunningly embroidered black-and-burgundy suit with a cropped jacket and razor-slim skirt, or a tent dress in a brown-and-cream ethnic geometric print. Only a couple of cable sweaters, worn with full pants, came off on the wrong side of the maturity/youth divide. But the designer quickly corrected that with a cardigan in of-the-moment tie-dye.

Evening was a study in elegance, whether de la Renta went understated, as he did with a sublime black silk sponge crepe gown cinched above the waist with a lizard belt, or bold. If you want drama, the show's closing number—strapless, with a spray of glossy black feathers decorating the neckline—is your dress.