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