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Red Carpet Ready: Gabriel & Co. + Oscar de la Renta

Interview with Laura Kim & Fernando Garcia

Published on February 11, 2020

With a desire to tap into, extend and capture the annual fascination with the ultimate Oscars red carpet, Gabriel & Co., the most trusted leader of the bridal and fashion fine jewelry worlds, has chosen the perfect label to showcase. Oscar de la Renta, the fashion house known for showstopping designs, becomes the next Designer Flash series highlight. For five decades, the extraordinary and charming Mr. de la Renta built a fashion house that became the can’t-be-beat hallmark of unparalleled elegance and sweeping romance. The master, who sadly passed in 2014, had one constant desire; to make every woman wearing his creations feel and look extraordinary. He succeeded. No wonder Oprah Winfrey, Penelope Cruz, Sara Jessica Parker, Nicole Kidman and scores of other gleeful stars always seemed to glide along carpets as if they were on their way to their own coronation rather than an award ceremony. What’s so exciting about the label today is that the young design team of Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia has deftly synthesized their fresh tailoring and angular dynamics with the house’s trademark sumptuous detail and sensuous femininity.

Gabriel & Co. couldn’t be more delighted to display the undeniable versatility of our Fine Jewelry Everyday Collection with Kim and Garcia’s current Resort Collection. Ms. Kim tells Hal Rubenstein, Gabriel’s Global Style Director, “Our vision is a little lighter; more in tune for the way we live now.” “We’re educating our customer further about how to expand her closet,” says Garcia, “because she moves around the world with astonishing frequency.” However, the duo’s primary loyalty is obvious when you see and savor the finished product. “Ultimately, we’re after a joie de vivre that came through in Oscar’s clothes,” says Kim. “We want to make him proud.” You will see, through their wonderful collection accessorized with Gabriel & Co. sparkle in this edition of Designer Flash, they do exactly that.

The complete Designer Flash Series collection brings designers from all walks of life and style together to showcase Gabriel & Co.’s wide range of offerings, both fashion collections and bridal engagement rings and wedding bands. Each designer-dedicated web page features four parts: a written interview; the designer’s selection of five new jewels from Gabriel & Co., along with a statement on each piece; the podcast, which can be viewed and downloaded; and a #GabrielNY section, which highlights each piece that the designers used to style the model in the on-page photos. Past installments have highlighted legendary brands such as Max Mara, Badgley Mischka, Norma Kamali, and Tommy Hilfiger.

Oscar De La Renta is one of the most desired and revered brands in American fashion. Even the name has the prefect lilt and rhythm to describe a line of clothing that embraces romance, that creates drama, and that moves as sinuously as if the ever-charming Mr. De La Renta was gliding you across the dance floor himself. So imagine how daunting it must have been for Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia to inherit this enviable but daunting branding. Kim and Garcia had already established their own clothing line Monse – which is both fresh and irreverent – but they had to adjust the aesthetic when it came time to take on the De La Renta brand.

Interview with Laura Kim & Fernando Garcia

When did the two of you first join forces?

FG: My father had a friend who knew Oscar. I studied architecture, but I always wanted to see what fashion was like, so I would sketch in the back of all my notebooks. When I graduated from Notre Dame, I asked my father, ‘Do you want to use that favor card to see what Oscar thinks about my sketches?’ He agreed, and the rest is history. That’s how I met him. He offered me an internship on the spot and Laura became my boss.

LK: When Fernando showed up, he had no idea how to do anything, but he was just really, really into it. He was the most passionate intern I ever had. Passion means something.

What was it about each other’s aesthetic that you believed would mesh into a harmonious design philosophy?

FG: We have different perspectives about what a woman should wear, but each and every time we combine the ideas the result is always an improvement from our original individual ideas. It’s become an addictive collaborative process that can start from a clipping, a piece of art, an Instagram post or even a movie – we bring it to the table and dissect why we love it.

Why do you think Oscar de la Renta’s image of beauty has had such a lasting impact on the ready-to-wear customer?

LK: Oscar de la Renta has a very rare element of timelessness that does not exist in many brands today. Its ability to have the same strength in product offering, throughout its existence, is amazing. Every year it has stayed as American and elegant while striking a young bold note, as it did at the very beginning.

What or who did you turn to, to see this landscape of the fashion world through “Oscar’s eyes”?

LK: Professionally speaking, we grew up in this company. Having worked together for 12 years, while learning it all from him, we intrinsically have Oscar in our DNA. He would always follow his gut. Oscar believed the design was instinctual, so if an idea doesn’t blow our socks off right from the start, we move on. We’re a team. Because we see a story behind everything here, we don’t feel like we’re invading Oscar’s office. Like, this is a picture of a white dress styled by Vogue editor Grace Coddington with Lady Gaga. That was my first resort collection here, so I remember that dress very fondly.

With each collection, the melding of your design perspective and Oscar seems more fluid and seamless. How has your view of your mission changed in the last few years?

LK: I think we’re finally bringing the brand in line with our vision which is a little lighter; more in tune for the way we live now. It took about a year and a half to settle in. Now, we’re getting a universal yes from buyers, editors, from the family as well as us. We feel like we’ve gotten to where we want to be with the house.

Who do you see as today’s Oscar de la Renta customer?

FG: We’re introducing new types of items into her closet, like suiting, denim, and evening tops. We’re educating her further about how to expand her closet. Our client has been there since we returned, and now we’re focused on giving her things from the house that she hasn’t had before. This woman moves around the world with astonishing frequency. Her clothes need to travel in suitcases; she’s frequently going from a work environment into a social occasion. The clothes need to loosen up.

Oscar adored his Latin heritage. How does that factor into your work?

LK: For the Spring 2020 collection, we explored the house’s Latin American roots through a modern lens, taking inspiration from the melting pot of cultures in the Caribbean and the splendor of the natural landscapes. Ultimately, we’re after a joie de vivre that came through in Oscar’s clothes. We want to make him proud.

What are the clothes you feel most comfortable and glamorous in?

LK: I put comfort before everything. We always had caftans but we never really showed them. But I’m starting to realize that that’s all I want to wear.

SOURCE Gabriel & Co. | Hal Rubenstein
Executive Editor