If he wanted to indicate a new mood for Spring, Oscar de la Renta couldn't have picked a better soundtrack: Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. Yes, you read that right. And sitting front-row opposite Valentino and Justin Timberlake: Nicki Minaj, sans pants. Those weren't the only things that made this Oscar show feel particularly zippy. There was a fresh, upbeat look that went beyond the bobby-socks-and-heels act, the softly frizzed hair, and the no-makeup makeup. You saw it in a pair of bright silk taffeta ball gowns topped with T-shirts. Couture lace T-shirts, but you get the idea.

De la Renta has ditched the old church where he's presented for the last couple of years in favor of his new 42nd Street showroom. New venue, new lease on life? The space is un-renovated, and the runway is narrow. It meant you had an up-close view of the beautiful handwork that has won him so many fans over the years. White is a big trend this week, but we challenge you to find a lovelier, more ethereal dress than the one with the delicate handkerchief hem the designer put on Arizona Muse. It was one of a series of lacy white confections that skewed younger than anything we've seen on an Oscar runway lately. And other things surprised, too. A chartreuse feather-stitched tank top and matching harem pant was perhaps too outré, but then you'd see de la Renta's enthusiasm paying off, as in a crocheted silver thread sweater that exposed an inch or so of midriff over a metallic ball skirt.

Not to worry, ladies: He hasn't abandoned his core clients, the ones who return year after year for the tweedy skirtsuits, the sleeveless sheaths, the entrance-making evening dresses. But how fab to see a designer hit the refresh button after 40-plus years in business.