Revisiting the Runway: Oscar de la Renta Spring/Summer ’94

Oscar de la Renta  Spring/Summer 94

In the late 90s I spent a lot of time cutting up magazines, selecting images of the coolest outfits. I taped them to the back of my bedroom door, surrounding my full length mirror. Truthfully, I was more obsessed with actresses than super models. Super models seemed super human while actresses, well, maybe I could be their friend one day. Nevertheless, I was fashion obsessed. Let’s talk about the 1994 Oscar de la Renta Spring/Summer New York Fashion Week show.

Revisiting the Runway: Oscar de la Renta

We’re kicking off a series called Revisiting the Runway. In this series, we’ll be chatting about some iconic (and maybe basic) 90s runway shows.

For this edition, I randomly selected Oscar de la Renta’s Spring/Summer ’94 show. Little did I know, I’d find cuts and prints as well as huge super models who would define a decade of fashion.

We’re about 30 years removed from the beginning of the 90s now (duh, math!). Looking back, it feels like a different time where big name designers and super models served as taste makers. It was a different world. It’s hard to picture fashion existing without the Internet. Today, it very much feels like we are the taste makers. That includes kids on Depop and TikTok and older influencers on Instagram. It does seem people care less about big names than did in the 90s. I think, overall, that’s a good thing.

But back to the Spring/Summer ’94 de la Renta show. In the words of Gwen Stefani, this shit was bananas.

On the runway, de la Renta had heavy hitters and show stoppers like Naomi Campbell and Christy Turlington and Carla Bruni. Models wore cuts and prints that would permeate the rest of the decade.

Oscar de la Renta  Spring/Summer 94

And the models! There may never be anyone like them again. It wasn’t until I watched all 30 minutes of this show that I understood how truly amazing Campbell was in in her heyday. When she was on the runway, she was absolutely captivating. So much so that I felt bad for the other models, even Turlington. The 90s were just a different time for the super models.

But back to the collection. Looking back on 1994 from 2020 (um, please can we go back??), it’s amazing to see how much impact these designers had on fashion as a whole. The Oscar de la Renta collection was defined by tunics, Middle Eastern-inspired (some may say appropriated) prints and flowing trousers. As a fervent thrifter, I immediately recognized so many items that I had found over the years. Of course, they were usually from lower end brands.

High necked tunics, weird and almost unwearable pants with too much chiffon, Middle Eastern prints that never felt authentic. All items sent to the thrift store by previous fashionista owners. It’s truly something to behold with the trickle down effect from the runway to fast fashion. I would also note that the Asian-inspired workwear lives on today in the closets of Boomer politicians.

Fashion was just different in the 90s

Fashion moves so fast today, with trends changing every quarter. It was interesting to step back in time to a slower period. Where trends took years to die out, if ever. And fashion was decided by men and put on display by top models.

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