De la Renta's widow, Annette, as well as his many clients and fans — among them, singer Taylor Swift and supermodel Karlie Kloss — packed into the late designer's showroom to see Copping's debut collection. They applauded it warmly at the end, though it was clear that all missed the familiar sight of de la Renta emerging from the wings, on a model's arm, with a huge grin on his face.
De la Renta died of cancer at age 82, ending a career in which he dressed first ladies, socialites and Hollywood stars for more than four decades. Only days earlier, he had hired Copping as artistic director, and a week before that, first lady Michelle Obama had worn one of his dresses for the first time.
"It obviously was a tough situation," Copping told reporters backstage after taking a shy bow, "but Oscar is a designer that I really respected, and we share a lot in terms of esthetic." He added that the fact that de la Renta had personally chosen him "gave me a certain amount of confidence." Particularly, Copping has said he shares his predecessor's romantic sensibility.
In a note distributed with the program, Copping, who is British, wrote that he was "immensely proud" to be in his new position. "Unfortunately things did not go according to our plans," he said, "and I never had the chance to work with Oscar, which is something I deeply regret." He spoke of beginning "a new chapter for the house" while still honouring de la Renta's legacy.
The Dominican-born de la Renta was best known for glamorous gowns featuring intricate embroidery and made of the most luxurious materials. Copping, who previously was artistic director at the Nina Ricci fashion house, featured a number of those, but also showed an affinity for shorter lengths and daytime attire. His final garment down the runway was not a ballgown but a short cocktail dress, in black and peridot green, paired with elbow-length gloves in lilac leather.
For daywear, Copping favoured multi-patterned tweed suits — he has said he got the idea from looking outside his office window. Both day and evening wear featured vivid colours like violet, magenta and Bordeaux, though there was lots of navy and black, too. Jewelry included colorful chunky necklaces. One striking navy cocktail dress was made with ribboned organza for a beaded effect.
Copping also spoke backstage of gaining confidence in his debut collection from the approval of his co-workers at Oscar de la Renta.