We, and many fashion editors, know from painful experience that Oscar de la Renta’s shows thrive on punctuality. So it was no surprise to find a line outside the venue already, even though we arrived for Wednesday’s show about fifteen minutes before its scheduled start time — which for a lot of shows means, “Time to start thinking about maybe turning on the lights,” but for Oscar, it means, “Time to get in your seat or else you are going to have to peek through the keyhole.”
It was a surprise, though, to get inside and then watch the time tick away.
The only possible explanation: Marquee guest Jessica Biel’s seat remained starkly empty. We wondered if it was a traffic emergency, or perhaps a tragic crimping accident. But at around 1:30, Biel strolled in looking remarkably calm, collected, stress-free — and, we are compelled by journalistic integrity to add, fantastic. Her hair was loose around her face and curled, and her dress may have been a dusty purple, but we couldn’t tell because she never removed her divine gray wool coat. We get that; we might not have wanted to part with that thing, either.
Biel sat next to Vanity Fair’s Michael Roberts, whom she kissed on both cheeks before waving across the runway at Anna Wintour (Biel is Vogue’s current cover model) and Virginia Smith. Then she settled in to watch the show, across the aisle from Rachel Zoe, hubby Rodger, and Joe Zee. The OCD alphabetizing geek in us found it deeply pleasing that Zee and Zoe were seatmates. There’s a kids’ book in there somewhere — Zee and Zoe Go Front Row, maybe, all about flossing your teeth and learning to share.
Overlooked in the Biel frenzy: the presence of CoverGirl face and actress Ana de la Reguera, who seemed a bit starstruck from having met the designer. She practically bounced up and down from giddiness. “I did a story on him when I was younger and I was so nervous!” she told a reporter. “But I am so proud of him. It was very glamorous.” She also did all her interviews outside in a little shoulder-baring cocktail dress, with nary a shiver nor a complaint, while a few fashionistas around her shook and clacked their teeth together like they were wind-up toys.
Biel loved the show, whispering in awe to stylist Estee Stanley at least five times — once at a pair of high-waisted pants with glittery cutout details perhaps better left to the professionals, but mostly at cocktail dresses and gowns that were easily worthy of a swoon. “It was beautiful. I … ” we heard Biel say afterward, clutching at her heart and shrugging dreamily as if to convey speechlessness. “I wasn’t into this when I was younger. I was into sports. But I’m into it now.” It probably helps that she can also literally get into it — as in, acquire a De La Renta, zip it up, and wear it wherever the heck she likes. In that situation we defy anyone NOT to brim with enthusiasm.