Having spent five years as Creative Director at Nina Ricci – and 12 with Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton prior to that – Peter Copping was hand-picked to take the helm at Oscar de la Renta by the late designer himself. We caught up with the British designer to find out about having big shoes to fill and what he sees for the future of the much-loved brand.
Words used to describe your first collection for the brand included ‘sensitive’, ‘gentle’ and ‘a natural progression’ – what were your main aims when starting the design process?
I wanted to be very true to the legacy of Oscar and the spirit of the house; but that’s not just something I was doing for that one collection, it will be ongoing. I think that my design aesthetic is very much on par with Oscar’s, which is one of the reasons I think he selected me to come on board and take the house forward. I didn’t want it to be purely an homage either though, I thought it was necessary to bring in some new elements from quite early on. I think there was a lot of Oscar and what the house had stood for in the collection, but there was some of me in there as well.
“I think that my design aesthetic is very much on par with Oscar’s, which is one of the reasons I think he selected me to come on board and take the house forward.”
To be handpicked to carry on the fashion house in his name; what advice or inspiration did Oscar himself offer you?
Unfortunately I have to say no, there wasn’t. Things didn’t really pan out how it had been planned; ideally we were going to work together during a couple of seasons. I’d had very few meetings with Oscar, we spoke on the telephone, and I think he was just excited to have somebody in-house and there to help him. He was someone who looked forward, so I think it would’ve been an exciting time for him, but he never really managed to give me any advice as such.
You’ve said that it wasn’t a house that needed reviving, but maintaining, what direction will you be taking the house in?
Yes, and developing. The house has a very large, loyal clientele. I’m keen to consider what we do for daywear; in the past the daywear has been very dressy and I think, knowing Oscar’s clientele, there is still a place for that sort of wardrobe but I think it could be made broader. Accessories and shoes are just starting to go well, but I think we can go a lot further with them. And obviously leather goods – bags – but the daywear has to become slightly more established to start to play around with bags because, for me, they need to be played off daywear to create that total look.
How would you describe the Oscar de la Renta woman?
I think she’s a lot of fun. I think she’s somebody who has quite a strong personality. She enjoys clothes; she’s not a shrinking violet. I think she’s somebody who loves fashion and embraces it. She likes to be noticed.
On your appointment de la Renta said that you shared design sensibilities and a deep curiosity for the wider world – is there a particular place that you find your greatest influences?
I think that’s a good way to describe me – curious. I’m very observant; I’m always looking at things. I like to travel a lot and typically, when I travel, what I like to do is be stimulated by the exhibitions on at the time.
What was your main inspiration for SS16?
I really wanted to marry two of Oscar’s worlds, New York City and Punta Cana, through color, pattern and the house’s general joie de vivre.
You studied at CSM and the Royal College of Art, and then moved straight to Paris – was that always your plan?
The British art schools are second to none; you’re given such a great education. Thinking back, because it was quite a long time ago – it was the beginning of the '90s when I graduated – the British fashion industry felt very different to what it is now. It seems a lot more buoyant and exciting at the moment and a lot of good new designers have come along, but that wasn’t so much the case when I graduated, so Paris really felt like the place I had to be.
You worked alongside Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton. Did he give you any words of wisdom?
Constantly, but not necessarily anything in particular. I spent 12 years with him and it was a great experience; I learnt a lot. Marc is someone who is very precise with an extreme eye for detail and that’s something that he instilled in me, although I think that it was something that developed quite naturally in me; it’s definitely my way of looking at things and I think we were very compatible in that respect.
How have you found the transition from Paris to New York?
I have to say it’s been pretty easy. New York is a city I’ve always loved. I didn’t quite know what it was going to be like to live there but everything’s gone very smoothly. Myself and my partner feel very at home there. We found an apartment in the West Village and I think that’s a nice transition from Paris and a good way into New York because it’s quite accessible and small and doesn’t have the brashness that the rest of the city can have.
Shop pieces from the Resort and SS16 collections below.
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