Rise and Shine

Fer­nando Gar­cia and Laura Kim are New York’s most an­tic­i­pated act.

Harper's Bazaar (Singapore) - - CONTENTS - By Ger­ald Tan

Afair share of de­signer duos have emerged from the grid­locked streets of New York to be­come the city’s most buzz-wor­thy part­ner­ships. For ex­am­ple, Pub­lic School’s Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Os­borne; Lazaro Her­nan­dez and Jack McCol­lough of Proenza Schouler fame; and re­tail­ers-turned-de­sign­ers Hum­berto Leon and Carol Lim, the mas­ter­minds be­hind Kenzo’s youth­ful re­vival. Now carving a path of their own are Fer­nando Gar­cia and Laura Kim—two tal­ented de­sign­ers who are breath­ing new life into Os­car de la Renta while ac­cu­mu­lat­ing ac­co­lades at Monse, the la­bel they founded in 2015 best known for its de­con­structed shirt­ing, tai­lor­ing and a strong cos­mopoli­tan at­ti­tude.

The at­ten­tion sur­round­ing 30-year-old Do­mini­can na­tive Gar­cia and 35-year-old Korean-born Cana­dian Kim is ex­pected: Both worked for years un­der the tute­lage of de la Renta, left to strike out on their own af­ter his death, only to re­turn to the fold two years later armed with fresh per­spec­tives to pro­pel the her­itage brand for­ward. “We were try­ing to un­der­stand how to ed­u­cate the ex­ist­ing clien­tele so that they adapt and move for­ward with the world too,” of­fers Gar­cia at a spe­cial pre­view in Sin­ga­pore or­gan­ised by Net-a-Porter (Kim had to sit out the trip due to a leg in­jury). Their new look for Os­car de la Renta has been de­scribed by crit­ics as “youth­ful” and “clean-lined”, and their pol­ished pot­pourri of sleek suits, re­fined dresses and im­pec­ca­ble gowns are win­ning over a new gen­er­a­tion of women more at­tuned to their bodies. Gar­cia adds: “I think we’re hit­ting the right note now.”

You once de­scribed Os­car de la Renta and Monse as shar­ing a very unique “sym­bio­sis”. Do you think this is cru­cial?

We learnt so much de­vel­op­ing Monse dur­ing the year we spent out­side of our Os­car bub­ble. It sort of taught us to ground our­selves in the re­al­ity of what to­day’s client wants. We’re the same de­sign­ers for both, so in­nately there will be sim­i­lar­i­ties. Os­car al­ways loved strong, bold and sim­ple ideas.At Monse, we grav­i­tate to­wards stripes, for ex­am­ple; but they have to be strong, bold and sim­ple, too.

Is it still a work in progress at Os­car de la Renta?

We’re surely build­ing mo­men­tum. Os­car de la Renta is pri­mar­ily a House that has a very strong clien­tele base and per­forms ex­tremely well in the ready-to-wear seg­ment, so we can­not and shouldn’t aban­don that. There’s so much we can do with the Os­car DNA to push it for­ward. What we’re do­ing is in­tro­duc­ing new prod­uct cat­e­gories. One thing that has worked is the ad­di­tion of more evening sep­a­rates: Tops that can be worn with pants for a night out. It’s no longer just about a cock­tail dress. Os­car did very lit­tle suit­ing, so we’re in­ject­ing more of that be­cause at Monse, we re­ally be­lieve in suit­ing—even if it’s de­con­structed.

What does “legacy” mean to you?

When I think of legacy, I feel a sense of re­spon­si­bil­ity. To me, legacy is what we’ve in­her­ited, but we also need to adapt the DNA of Os­car de la Renta as time changes. What we want to achieve is to cre­ate beau­ti­ful things for ev­ery­body.

Where do you see your­self more—Os­car de la Renta or Monse?

Both.We were “raised” by Os­car cre­atively. Ev­ery­thing we’ve done is prob­a­bly the way he would’ve ap­proached it. Monse is a fun ex­per­i­ment for us. We didn’t know it was go­ing to be a suc­cess. But we ap­proached it smartly by mak­ing sure we were cre­at­ing a prod­uct that was not al­ready out there.

Is find­ing new orig­i­nal ideas an im­por­tant as­pect of what you do?

I want to make sure that ev­ery­thing we do feels like it’s some­thing women don’t al­ready own. I want women to feel as ex­cited now as when they bought their very first Monse shirt­dress or their very first Os­car de la Renta cock­tail dress. Fash­ion has to move you. It’s a very emo­tional thing. If it’s not new, it’s not go­ing to make you want to buy it. ■

Kim and Gar­cia

From top: Monse fall/ win­ter 2018. Os­car de la Renta fall/ win­ter 2018

The brand has ex­panded on its prod­uct of­fer­ings to in­clude el­e­gant creations such as this clutch

Beau­ti­ful de­tails at Os­car de la Renta fall/win­ter 2018

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