Cathy Horyn Weighs In On Oscar de la Renta Taking In John Galliano

While his residency in Oscar de la Renta‘s studio began only a matter of weeks ago, John Galliano‘s signature drama was noticeably in the air yesterday evening as we settled in to watch what was surely one of the most hotly anticipated shows of New York Fashion Week.

As always, De la Renta showed in his 42nd street offices, and the front row was populated by friends and editors alike. Diane von Furstenberg held court with husband Barry Diller, while Valentino, Anna Wintour, and Grace Coddington took their seats nearby. Farther down the row was Cathy Horyn, no doubt relieved that all of the Galliano gossip meant that the media will be letting barbecue-related bygones be bygones this season.

Since she has known both designers for many years, we couldn’t pass up the chance to pick the brain of the New York Times fashion critic about their partnership this season. When the news broke that De la Renta would be opening his studio to Galliano, the pair no doubt seemed to some like an odd couple — the madcap couturier and the squire of Park Avenue — but to Horyn the match made perfect sense. The man who runs De la Renta’s atelier was previously Dior’s head tailleur, she explained, and Mrs. De la Renta was a longtime customer of Galliano’s. “I think it’s really about a friendship, more than anything,” she opined.

“Oscar has been around a long time,” Horyn continued, “and I think that they’re probably sympathetic about a lot of things related to fashion.” With all of his resources, she explained, “I think it was a good gesture for him to include John for a few weeks.”

Indeed, 2013 marks the New York designer’s 50th anniversary in the city, and there have been rumors that Galliano’s stint may be a precursor to a more lasting relationship with the house once the 80-year-old decides to retire. This is pure speculation at the moment, though Horyn agrees that the partnership seems to be mutually beneficial. “I think that it’s just good for John to get his feet wet again in the business and be working,” she told us.

Another alternative, if recent reports are to be believed, is that Galliano may be looking in to taking on a teaching position at a fashion school. This, too, Horyn was optimistic about:

“I think it’s a great idea wherever it is,” she said. “Whether it’s in New York or London or San Francisco. I think it’s a really good idea to work with students. There’s a lot of knowledge that John has, not just in making clothes but in creating ideas and a vision of something. It’s good discipline for him.”

For his part, De La Renta recently told New York magazine that he would be quite happy keeping the controversial designer around: “I like hearing what he thinks should be changed and improved about each piece we are showing in the fall collection.” Clearly, the second set of eyes paid off, since yesterday’s show was a masterful display of design chops.

The first looks featured nipped waists and knee-length skirts in saturated jewel tones, topped with elongated cloche hats — all of which, inevitably, brought to mind Dior’s Bar silhouette and Galliano’s own penchant for dramatic chapeaux. Next came draped and hooded capes and skinny pants — probably the only few looks that would be at home below 14th street — and a slew of opulent furs and sculpted brocade dresses. While this season wasn’t quite as young and colorful as spring, the outfits were accessorized with bright, almost whimsical gloves, that featured a layer of contrasting tulle over the leather pair. Finally, the show closed with a pair of incredible, show-stopping ball gowns in vivid fuchsia and violet, and really: does it get any more Oscar than that?

See images from yesterday’s runway show below:

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