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Gazelle Emami

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Oscar de la Renta Fall 2011 (PHOTOS): Park Avenue Meets Morocco

Posted: 02/17/2011 11:15 am

The name is virtually synonymous with fashion -- people know it means something, even if they're not sure what. By the same token, even those who do know what it means weren't flocking to see a household name on Wednesday afternoon. Oscar's clothes cater to a more niche, Park Avenue audience, one that looks at gold-builloin-embroidered clothing and doesn't lose feeling in their legs.

I, for one, like losing feeling in my legs.

That's the thing about his fall 2011 collection -- the reaction is visceral. Before you can even decide what you think, your jaw has dropped, you're a little lightheaded and your mind has gone blank. And that was only after the first look.

Even Oscar doesn't escape Anna Wintour's judgment, though. When Wintour slid her sunglasses on (as she confessed to Morley Safer, "They're seriously useful. I mean, I can sit in a show, and if I'm bored out of my mind, nobody will notice. And if I'm enjoying it, nobody will notice"), it was the cue for the rest of us that the show was about to begin, and that nobody could look to her for a cue on what to think. But no one needed to -- we barely had enough time to take in each look. Parisian DJ Michel Gaubert's thundering mix (which I'd like to somehow get my hands on) set us off at a breakneck speed through his Moroccan-Russian-Middle Eastern-Chinese-you-name-it inspired collection.

The influences in this unfathomably detailed collection were clearly identifiable, but instead of being overworked, his bold patterns-on-patterns and textures managed to somehow be both trendsetting and classic -- a difficult thing to balance, but one that Oscar truly achieves here.

2011-02-17-oscar2.jpg2011-02-17-oscar5.jpgSpeaking of trends, let's look at what we can take away, shall we? The looks were quite a departure from this season's florals (which Rihanna sported Tuesday at the Brit Awards) -- come fall, florals are gone, and tribal is here to stay.

Classic, houndstooth tweeds were dyed to blur the line between Moroccan and Park Avenue chic (see left), while patchwork, statement coats and vests dominated a good portion of the show.

It would appear that hats were another trend to watch for, but look again -- they only served as a means to bring attention down to the neck. Whether it was of the cowl sort (see left) or an Ottoman-style, fur-trimmed headdress (see right), it all came together below the chin. The long necklaces layered on top of many of these looks further hinted that the neckline can be a powerful asset.

The dresses weren't the main event here, but practically each one was still a knockout. One standout was a pearl-embroidered silk chiffon gown with tulle skirt that came bursting out of a Moroccan Beni-embroidered coat -- you'll know it when you see it. Surprisingly, the simplest dress -- a delicate, gold floral-threadwork embroidered organza dress -- was one of the most striking elements of the entire collection. While its photograph doesn't do it justice, it confirms that the collection's strength really lies in its attention to detail.

What didn't I like? I didn't like the models whizzing down the runway, with not nearly enough time to drink in the tapestry-like details. Lucky for us, that's what we have photos for. What did you think of Oscar's designs?

All photos from AP and Getty

Fashion Oscar de la Renta Fall 2011
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A model walks the runway at the Oscar de la Renta Fall 2011 show during Fashion Week in New York, Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2011. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
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