Double Act
Prestige Hong Kong|July 2017

Two designers, two brands, two worlds. Creative directors Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia tell Alice Franklin why taking the reins at Oscar de la Renta made sense as Monse, their new brand on the block, continues to impress

Alice Franklin

Two designers, two brands, two worlds. Creative directors Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia tell Alice Franklin why taking the reins at Oscar de la Renta made sense as Monse, their new brand on the block, continues to impress finding time for a call with of-the-moment designers Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia would be best described as a challenge. But what else would you expect when the duo in question is flat out working on not one but two labels?

The first, Monse, is a relative newcomer on fashion’s ever-changing scene, having been launched in 2015; the second is one of the industry’s most fêted houses, Oscar de la Renta. From seasonal collections to wedding lines and more, here is a working couple that can’t stop, won’t stop.

When we finally manage to coordinate schedules and I find myself dialling across the Pacific to New York City, it’s Garcia who answers. Unfortunately, Kim has found herself caught up in Big Apple traffic and likely won’t make it in time to join our chat, he explains.

Apologies are profuse and sincere. It will take another week before I’m able to catch up with Kim and get her thoughts on the unique journey they’ve been on, and what’s next for both brands. It speaks volumes that the stories Garcia and Kim share separately are so in tune; clearly this mindful alignment plays a large part in why they founded Monse and were asked to rejoin the family house of Oscar de la Renta in the autumn of 2016 after only a two-year hiatus.

It was at de la Renta where Garcia and Kim’s paths first crossed, her as design director of the maison’s electrifying yet beautifully feminine designs, and him as senior designer. What followed was a meeting of minds and a desire to bring something new to market, from which the seed of an idea that would eventually become Monse grew.

“We were very scared that we would look like a version of Oscar [de la Renta], because it was all we knew till that point,” Garcia says, when asked about the young label’s starting point. “So we worked backwards: we looked at the market and we realised what was missing.

“You have your ultra-masculine brands that are very minimal and restrained, like The Row or Alexander Wang, or you have your ultrafeminine brands like Oscar or Giambattista Valli. We saw that there was a need for a brand that was in between what was existing.” Monse has certainly found its niche.

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