It is the fashion version of the elegant aesthete versus the exuberant decorator. Or maybe it is the chilly vision of a minimalist architect set against the pile-them-on patterns shaping a different kind of creative mind.

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New York fashion can boast two exceptional designers. Or may be that should be four. Because there are design duos behind The Row and Oscar de la Renta, with each “twin” showing a similar mindset.

To have these effective couplings is rare. In the past, only one creative rose above the parapet – even if there were often creative pairs behind the scenes. But since the turn of the 21st century, fashion houses have hired couples who are often, but not always, partners in love as well as art.

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For New York’s Spring/Summer 2020 season there was power in these very different pairings.

The Row

Twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen built their business on fashion staples: trousers, coats, cashmere sweaters, and shapely tops, which this season had a slightly more sporty style – say, a cotton shirt with a curve at the waist, or narrow trousers with a sporty, but graceful look.

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This easy elegance stands out in an era when fast fashion’s quick production and sales are matched by mark-downs of quality pieces at great speed, probably six weeks after they arrive in-store. Row’s discreet, even silent, luxury increasingly fills the gap left by the changing look at Céline, for example. That sophisticated, French-based brand has been brought so much closer to “fashion” as we understand it.

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The two sisters’ story is of simplicity given a casual vibe, this time with more colour than expected. The show opened with black or white, often mixed, and a sporty look. But the collection still included tailored jackets, perhaps with rounded collars, while the big white shirt remained a staple. Light brown shades or off-whites with pleated drapes then morphed to a fresh sky blue.

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It was a bravura display of quiet luxury and a sense of timelessness for a wardrobe full of truly beautiful, wearable clothes.

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Oscar de la Renta

Baskets of fruit beneath shady palm trees brought Oscar de la Renta back to its heartland: The late founder’s origin in the Dominican Republic inspired current designers Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim to offer clothes more Latin than Manhattan.

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“It’s no longer just about having one collection or one silhouette, fabric, or colour, because it just travels so much, and with social media everybody knows what’s going on throughout the world,” Fernando said. “But we figured out that we just wanted to tap into the Latin side of the heritage. I think that Oscar loved exploring other cultures, but we thought, ‘Why not look in our own backyard? Dive into it!’”

This was a collection bright in colour and lively on the body. “We wanted a happy, bright collection – it was one of the first things we discussed,” Laura explained. ”We looked at Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and a palette that would fit into that vibe.”

For Fernando, the effect had to be more than vivid colour. “We also have an artisanal quality to the clothes that I think is very much of Latin American heritage,” he explained. “For instance, we have a group all in hand-woven raffia. We wanted that sort of Latin touch without it being in your face.”

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From bright sportswear to hand-worked, soft eveningwear and embroideries, the duo came up with something for a fresh young audience – say puffy shorts that the designers described as “night and day”.

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With a market not only in America, but also in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, they also find that there have to be categories appropriate to each nation. That international attitude even includes Lake Como, where the silk patterns are created.

De la Renta himself, was, of course, “made in America” when it came to sophisticated clothes. The current designers, who also have their own brand, Monse, say that they are developing a loyal client base, and that it is important to inject elements for 2020 that have not, as yet, been developed. runway reflected the vibrant atmosphere, colourful architecture and lively markets of tropical towns. As to the clothes, “The silhouettes are unabashedly feminine, with artful draping and voluminous ruffles or jewel-like embroidery,” Fernando said.

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“We have a very loyal client base,” he continued. “It’s about injecting things in their closets that are of the brand and that they don’t have yet. It’s about knowing the history of the house, being realistic, and admitting what the client already has in her closet. ”

And who exactly is the client? “I don’t think the lady who lunches exists any more,” he says. “She’s not lunching – she’s partying!”