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THE ENVELOPE, (PRETTY) PLEASE: Many people will find one less show invitation in the in-box this season. Oscar de la Renta has had his fill of the megaaudience approach to showing, cramming in “huge crowds of people with no direct connection to the clothes.”
De la Renta wants those attendees with a legitimate professional purpose to be able to see his clothes up close, sans the now-standard pushing, shoving and jostling involved with entrée, exit and sometimes, staking out one’s seat. Given the relatively tight conditions at his most recent venue, his showroom at 11 West 42nd Street, last season the designer staged two 316-seat shows to accommodate those guests as well as others whose reasons for attendance may be more ephemeral. No more. For his spring show on Sept. 10, he will stage a single show with a maximum capacity of 350.
De la Renta focused on the comfort of his professional audience as the reason for downsizing. But when asked if the potential for causing problems for designers following him on the day’s schedule played into his decision, he responded, “No question.” Specifically, he and Narciso Rodriguez, showing Tuesday at 8 p.m., will likely have an overlap of models. De la Renta stressed that while no one from the Rodriguez camp complained last season, when one designer takes two slots in an immensely crowded schedule, it can result in collateral issues. “I hate to inconvenience other people, as I hope other people wouldn’t want to inconvenience me,” he said.
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The only solution: De la Renta will slash away at his list of invitees — by numbers that grew hyperbolically in a three-minute conversation.
“When you do megashows, it loses the reason of why we’re showing,” he said, adding that anyone who’s interested can “see the show on the Internet 20 minutes later. It’s important for [certain industry professionals] to look at the clothes and see them. They shouldn’t have to go through 30,000 people, and 10,000 who are trying to take pictures of all of those people who are totally unrelated to the clothes.”
De la Renta added that the typical show frenzy seems suddenly dated.
“I feel [inviting a more targeted audience] is the most manageable way and the most civilized way,” he said. “Why have 20 million people with zero connection to the clothes?”