How Laura Kim & Fernando Garcia Captured The Splendor of Nature for Oscar De La Renta’s Latest Collection

How Laura Kim & Fernando Garcia Captured The Splendor of Nature for Oscar De La Renta’s Latest Collection

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How Laura Kim & Fernando Garcia Captured The Splendor of Nature for Oscar De La Renta’s Latest Collection

V’s Kevin Ponce chats with the brand’s creative directors about how the floral theme assemblage came to its full bloom.

V’s Kevin Ponce chats with the brand’s creative directors about how the floral theme assemblage came to its full bloom.

Text: Kevin Ponce

A moment that makes you forget about the world for one second—that’s what the creations of Oscar De La Renta can do for someone. When speaking with the house’s creative directors, Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia, as they showed me the floral fantasy they’ve (literally) crafted up amidst all the continuous chaos, a moment of reflection for one's surroundings was inevitable. With a penchant for botany and a passion to create, Kim and Garcia managed to bring the outdoors indoors, in the most grandiose way imaginable. Created in collaboration with artist Tricia Paoluccio, having gathered and pressed a variety of floral species to create something out of a treasured scrapbook, the collection seems to signify a modern take on naturistic glamour. Lensed by photographer Cass Bird, the lineup, detailed with the house’s signature craftsmanship that remains unparalleled, hearkens the call of fashion’s need for excitement and exuberance and shows proof of what creativity can look like during this period of confinement.

Photography by Cass Bird | Courtesy of Oscar De La Renta

Laura Kim: So last year before we went into lockdown, Fernando and I started pressing flowers. It [actually] takes some time, [and] we were really aiming to do it for September. It was actually so much work that we hired someone to do it. *laughs* We found a very good artist [Tricia Paoluccio] who does this a lot, and she went to LA to pick all the flowers and press them. This collection is [for] fall, but it [gets] delivered in stores at the end of July. Stores really want collections to be buy now, wear now, so when you deliver, they actually plan for customers to wear it. So this collection is very summery, [and] even if it's fall, we were thinking about it [as] a memory of early spring. When our clothes get to the store, it's [also] when the sunflower season [begins], so we [also] have a lot of sunflowers in the collection. We're hoping that by August, we will be able to go out a little bit more and maybe head back to the office, so we have a little bit more tailoring than last season so we're easing [our way] back to normal life.

Fernando Garcia: We're definitely celebrating a little bit of an opulent lifestyle. By the time it hits the stores, we'll be a bit more celebratory. We developed the concept in different fabric weights and types like cotton, fil coupé. So, we translated it into a different type of dressing.

Kevin Ponce: It’s fantastic! How many different types of flowers are featured in this collection?

LK: It’s all the flowers that we collected throughout the summer. I don’t know how many flowers are in the prints but there is a little group in the collection that's just all sunflowers.

Photography by Cass Bird | Courtesy of Oscar De La Renta

KP: And you picked all your own flowers for this, right? Where did you guys go to collect?

FG: We stole the flowers from Central Park!

KP: *laughs* No kidding!

LK: So the artist we hired [Tricia Paoluccio] to do the pressing has a family farm in LA and she went to California to do it.

FG: You know, the reason we started working with somebody locally and not from Italy or India, which we normally do, is because during lockdown we really had to refocus how we develop a collection and we couldn't rely on those resources again. By the time this came along, we were able to now tap into our other vendors and marry the local New York craftsmanship with the rest of the world. So that's why we started locally and then branched out.

Photography by Cass Bird | Courtesy of Oscar De La Renta

KP: So where did you guys find Tricia and how did this collaboration of sorts come about?

LK: I actually found her on Instagram because I was like I'm done pressing these flowers.

KP: *laughs* Of course—that’s always how it begins!

FG: I mean, we do everything through our Instagram—our collaborations, dating, etc.

KP: Oh honey, don’t I know it! What I also love about this particular lineup is the use of color throughout—it feels so refreshing to see this because every fall collection is so drab and this is awakening all the senses.

FG: Well, our customer definitely comes to us for color, so we can’t shy away from it. By the time the summer is dying out, I think people will start to do more weddings and events and I think event dressing will pick up. 

Photography by Cass Bird | Courtesy of Oscar De La Renta

KP: Hopefully! You know, your last collection for fall 2020 was quite event/party-focused!

FG: [At the time], we were subconsciously feeling that this is going to be the end of a life of partying, so let's go out with a bang and we really did opulence in that show. 

KP: It was fabulous! I was actually pretty curious about this new collection, knowing that the pandemic is still going but dressing up is still not the norm anymore.

FG: Well, it's been a roller coaster. I mean, every week we’ve had to reassess what we can do physically, given the restrictions. So it's been quite the yo-yo year. But I think that by the time the collection gets delivered, things will start to pick up. What's been weird is that the brides have become even more ambitious—they have tripled for us in the last year. Because of that, event dressing has still been requested. Even if it's private or small, they're still asking for gowns. 

Photography by Cass Bird | Courtesy of Oscar De La Renta

KP: With everything going on, how do you both remain creative during these times? 

LK: You know, we used to travel so much and a lot of our collections were based on our trips or things we saw abroad. But honestly, New York has so much [going on] that I’m not missing out on anything. We bought so many books that we never [had the chance] to look through because we were always away. We'd never had time. So we had the chance to look through things that we've been collecting over the years.

FG: Full disclosure—we were pleasantly not bothered by not traveling. We've been traveling for 10 years nonstop, we’re very lucky that we've been exposed to a lot of cultures, so we really embraced the break. We definitely had to figure out how to be creative with the resources in New York City alone so that pushed our brains into developing different things. 

KP: I get it completely! The time to be innovative and inventive is now. In the face of adversity and during confinement, it’s amazing what the brain can do to come up with something new. I applaud you both for another stellar collection that helps bring back some beauty into the world! 

Photography by Cass Bird | Courtesy of Oscar De La Renta

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