Oscar de la Renta
has never made any apologies for catering to the upper tiers of the upper crust, and why should he? But his reliance on certain posh props (updos and heavy eye makeup on the models, an ostrich bag filled with fresh-cut flowers, a soundtrack of doo-wop hits by the Platters) made today's somewhat uneven collection feel more old-fashioned than it might otherwise have. Mixed in among the ladylike tweeds, windowpane plaids, and raffia embroidered linen were a pair of genuinely fresh shibori print frocks in relaxed away-from-the-body silhouettes. For cocktail hour, there were a fair number of modern options, from a strapless number in navy gazar embroidered with black organza to a white swansdown tutu with a black faille bodice, the latter of which seemed to thrill front-row star Sarah Jessica Parker. And, as ever, de la Renta's gowns were something to marvel at, especially the black mermaid dress with the one flounced shoulder strap and the ivory threadwork embroidery layered over a peony pink column. On the other hand, numbers like the celadon silk faille with the pink carnation appliqués and matching bolero erred too retro and over-the-top. At his best, de la Renta has a more subtle touch.