- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 11, 2018

NEW YORK (AP) - Two years into their tenure at the helm of Oscar de la Renta, designers Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia continue to seek new ways to inject a more relaxed vibe into the label - while maintaining its famous craftsmanship.

On Tuesday, the pair put on a rooftop runway show that felt like a sunny Mediterranean vacation - well, once it actually stopped drizzling. There were bold prints, lots of fringe, crocheted dresses and loose, comfy caftans taking their place among the elegant, structured gowns the label is best known for.

The two moods of the collection could perhaps best be sampled by looking at the show’s opening and closing garments, each modeled by a famous Hadid sister.

Bella Hadid kicked things off in a fringed, sarong-like skirt with a tulip print and a white, one-armed top. And Gigi Hadid finished the show in a long, sheer black lace gown - also with one arm free - with delicate ruffles running up the leg.

Backstage after the high-profile show, which drew celebrities like Nicki Minaj (and her mother), Kate Beckinsale and Dianna Agron, the designing duo had just a few words to describe what they were going for.

“More relaxed Oscar,” pronounced Garcia.

“Lighter,” noted Kim.

“Sexier,” added Garcia.

The two agreed that each season, they’ve experimented just a bit more with the aesthetic of the label’s legendary founder. This time, they thought about all the countries they’d traveled to for inspiration, and then actually made a print from a map of them, which appears on several garments.

“You can see, it goes from Turkey, to Morocco, to China,” Kim said, pointing to a photo on her look board backstage.

A number of the garments had a relaxed, looser fit, and Kim said that had something to do with the weather this year. “It was so hot this summer that I think I personally felt the need for looser clothes,” she said.

Chief among them: caftans, perhaps the ideal vacation garment. “We always had caftans but we never really showed them,” said Kim. “But I’m starting to realize that that’s all I want to wear in summer.”

Colors included a lot of neutrals, but also bold colors like bright canary yellow, and a new terra cotta red. Speaking of canaries, one highly whimsical touch was a white birdcage purse - with a wallet inside, resembling a bird. Not exactly your traditional de la Renta accessory.

For their own, much more casual and younger line, Monse, the two designers had said they metaphorically raided their grandmother’s closet this season (albeit a rich grandmother). So, they were asked, whose closet did they raid for their Oscar de la Renta collection?

“I think everybody in the Mediterranean,” Garcia quipped.

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