Fashion Week: Designers honor late Oscar de la Renta as all eyes focus on his successor

Fashion Week is well on its way in New York, with designs from Custo Barcelona to Carolina Herrera lighting up the catwalk with all the glamour they can muster.

But it is a bittersweet event this year as it is the first without legendary Dominican designer Oscar de la Renta, who passed away last October.

On the helm of De la Renta’s signature style is the fashion house’s new creative director Peter Copping – and all eyes will be on him on Tuesday in his debut show.

“There is an expectation (with Oscar de la Renta) – people knew what they were going to get,” designer Rolando Santana told Fox News Latino recently. “The pressure for Peter will be tremendous. People want to see Oscar’s legacy… It’s huge shoes to fill.”

Santana, whose collection of opulent dresses was inspired by 18th-century European aristocracy, said De la Renta’s death was a “tremendous loss for the fashion industry.”

“When you think of Oscar, it’s the ultimate expression of femininity – pure. I think of an impeccably dressed woman,” he said, adding that he remembered looking at fashion magazines growing up and seeing the various designs pop from the pages. “He addressed the woman, the mother, the grandmother – that’s the expectation for the new creative director.”

Santana, who is Mexican, added that people and fans of De la Renta will be looking to Copping to follow the tradition – with his own style infused, of course – but “without letting the DNA of ‘Oscar de la Renta’ to disappear.”

“There is only one Oscar. It was too soon to have lost a legend that really inspired everyone,” Santana said. “He opened so many doors for people who believe fashion is an extension of who you are as a person.”

Colombian designer Paul Peñaranda, who worked with De la Renta for several years before launching his own line, said not having the famed designer at this year’s Fashion Week felt like there was a “big empty space.”

“Oscar de la Renta was a Latino pioneer for designers who broke those barriers for us,” Peñaranda told Fox News Latino. “Fashion Week is not the same.”

“I worked with him for three years,” he continued. “He was not only an amazing designer, but an incredible human being. Oscar de la Renta was the only celebrity designer that spoke to you person-to-person and it’s something that stays with you.”

Lst week, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that a street would be named after him.

Ahead of his Tuesday debut, Copping told the New York Times that when talking about the show, he made some changes that were traditional to De la Renta.

“I want it to feel different,” he said. “But not shockingly different. Reassuringly different… I don’t think it’s always so nice to come into a place and say, ‘Everything needs to change.’”

Copping said he will be doing things his way, because “it would be quite futile to compete with his memory.”

“(The clothes) will be sophisticated and feminine, but I am also interested in what that means for the day. For the office. Not just the red carpet,” he continued. “America is still a society where people dress up and go to charity functions, but not all the world is like that. Sometimes, just by putting pockets in a specific place, you create a new attitude. One that’s a little cooler.”

Let’s see if it will work.

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