It also got a little wiggly at Carolina Herrera — who is herself sailing off into the sunset, at least sort of, by becoming the brand’s global ambassador, and anointing Wes Gordon as creative director — made the admirable, if not always successful, decision to look forward instead of back, swapping her usual florals for a lame leapin’ leopard print in glinting lamé. The awning stripes she favors were still in there, as were the polka dots (sequined, on a flowing cape), but the mixing of ostrich feather and silver ribbon on a skirt and coat had less direction than the parade of floor-sweeping faille skirts in a rainbow of shades paired with crisp white shirts and belted in contrasting colors that closed the show.
A homage to Mrs. Herrera’s signature style, it was the best look on the runway. There’s often a lot of pressure on new designers to “youthify” older brands, but here’s hoping that Mr. Gordon — who presented his boss with a giant bouquet of red roses during her bow — sticks with it.
In this, he might take a page from Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia, who have been smartly diplomatic about updating Oscar de la Renta without reinventing it. This season, a trip to the Cloisters inspired a host of tapestry prints, parchment shades and stylized florals, not to mention chain mail and silver filigree embroideries, all balanced by a stripped-down silhouette: narrow pants with deep cuffs and squared-off jackets; pencil skirts with slouchy sweaters sporting jeweled bouquets.
There were lots of the usual party dresses, to be sure. Presumably, many will end up on the red carpet at the Met Gala in May, for the opening of “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” (or even at the Oscars’ next month). But hidden among all the sparkle was one genuinely new idea: Many of the untucked shirttails poking from under the jackets were not actually shirts at all. They were fake-tails that belted around the waist, so they read as casual without the construction of layers.
They made sense — more so than the horses and … wait, was that a cow? — that reared across the linen serapes and shirts of Derek Lam’s otherwise understated and sporty Western-inspired suedes and slouchy trousers. Just as the lyrical, swaddling suiting in earthy shades at The Row makes sense. (The more ecclesiastical evening wear would also be good for the Met Gala, if anyone is feeling a little party Puritan.)