Why We Love Oscar de la Renta Kids
Designer children's wear done right
“When the news came…Mona [Bismark] didn’t come out of her room for three days,” Diana Vreeland once wrote, the news being that Cristóbal Balenciaga was finished with fashion. One of the dressmaker’s students, though, would soon rise to similar heights, and it’s no surprise that the current Vogue editor reveres him as Vreeland and her contemporaries did Balenciaga. I’m talking about Oscar de la Renta, who Anna Wintour, PR girl Erika Bearman, and others who wish they were as familiar just call Oscar. “Everything Oscar does is feminine, romantic, and appropriate,” Wintour told the Associated Press in 2004.
Her praise certainly applies to pieces from de la Renta’s children’s line—a herringbone tweed jacket with velvet buttons and trim, say, or maybe a full-skirted red plaid silk taffeta dress that could have been featured in Samantha: An American Girl Holiday. This fall marks the line’s first full collection. The brand launched a small capsule collection this past spring, and before that was creating one-offs here and there for charities and special clients, with any leftovers selling out almost instantaneously.
The clothes are at once effortlessly childish and so ‘Oscar,’ whose classic and colorful aesthetic makes for a more natural transition to children’s wear than other brands that sell sex appeal to adults and something necessarily diluted, if not completely different, to children. Still, Catherine Monteiro de Barros, the vice president of design for children’s wear, avoids borrowing too much from the adult line. The founder of the now-defunct but still adored Papo d’Anjo label, de Barros works with children’s forms and lifestyles in mind. She also puts a premium on quality—intending the lined, chain-stitched pieces, all made in Portugal, to be shared and passed along—and The New York Times agrees. In a recent, largely critical article questioning the price to value ratio of designer children’s wear, Oscar de la Renta Kids earned high marks that would make Balenciaga proud. —Kate Guadagnino