Moises de la Renta on MDLR Line, New Site, and Oscar’s Advice


Photo: Patrick McMullan

Moises de la Renta and his father, Oscar de la Renta

The fashion world may be full of chic mother-daughter pairs (Isabella Rossellini​ and Elettra Weidemann, Carine and Julia Roitfeld, Madonna and Lourdes, Angela and Margherita Missoni...), but what about fathers and sons?

Womenswear master Oscar de la Renta's son, Moises, is just as passionate about the industry as his iconic dad, whether it's teaming up with the Empire Hotel for Fashion Week dresses and cocktails, designing his own line, MDLR, or interviewing his pop for his soon-to-launch Web site,

FashionEtc checked in with the younger de la Renta to chat about his latest projects, his industry idols, and growing up in fashion.

What were you up to this Fashion Week?

Fashion Week has been very well, I can’t complain—it’s quite an adventure! I was doing the Empire Hotel thing and that’s been really amazing. I stopped by the other day and filmed a segment about how to make a drink. I went to the Oscar de la Renta show, and that was really beautiful. But the highlight was the Empire Hotel thing, and working on my own collection. I haven’t gotten to do a lot of the parties and stuff.

What’s going on with your own line, MDLR?

That status of that is I’m in the process of getting my online shop up by Christmas. I’m super psyched about that. The future of my line is on the Internet so I’m excited to go in that direction—everything is going that way. I did do a spring line but I didn’t do a presentation; I’m just shopping around for buyers, and going to Europe on the 24th. There’s a lot in store for MDLR!

Are you in any shops, or just on your site?

I’m focusing on the site, but I am in the process of shopping it to retail stores. The site is actually 85 to 95 percent video content. It’s going to feature health and beauty; culinary arts, which will have recipes and food and how to make dishes and cocktails; environment, which will cover different environmental issues; travel, technology, and then a link to my Tumblr. It’s a different perspective on what’s out there. It’s not only my perspective or my work, but there’ll be cool contributors.

So basically you’ll be chilling out, surfing the Web, learning about indigenous tribes in Venezuela or something, and then on your right-hand side of the screen you’ll see a little box with an online shop, and an image of a girl wearing my clothes—right now I’m starting with blouses and day dresses—keeping it super simple. As you know these days, everybody is curious and hungry for knowledge. The world is so vast, and the internet is a great tool.

So it’s an online shop, e-commerce with a twist—or you could call it a blog or concept magazine with an e-commerce twist.

Tell me about your Spring collection!

The collection is amazing. The Empire Hotel dresses were loosely based on what I was working on already. For spring, it’s all about colors and flowiness and comfort. There are cute day dresses in chiffon, some really comfortable pieces in great fabrics.

Does your dad give you advice when you’re working on your collections?

He’s always like, come show me some stuff! I did with spring and he liked it a lot. But I think I’m very shy and private about my work; I’m a little secretive. My father is the biggest perfectionist ever—and he’s my dad, but it can be a bit intimidating, so I just do my thing.

What did he think when you first told him you wanted to start your line?

He was always so encouraging and passionate. I was interviewing him yesterday for a segment on my Web site, and he was talking about passion and how the only really important thing in life is to be passionate about what you want to do—whether it’s picking up trash or on Wall Street. Go for something that you’re passionate about—that’s what he’s always told me. He’s told me it’s not a walk in the park or a slice of cake, it’s hard work and comes with rejection. It’s not glitz and glamour, and like any profession the fun parts are 5 percent or 10 percent of the total job. He’s encouraging but always realistic.

When did you realized that you wanted to follow in his footsteps and be a designer yourself?

I don’t know if it’s that I wanted to follow in his footsteps. As a kid, I wanted to do photography, marketing, all kinds of things—but growing up in Connecticut, I would look at the fashion magazines, and my father’s work would be in it. I would look at the mags and catch up and see what was going on in their world, because I was growing up in bumblef--k, Connecticut. Having all that stimuli, I fell in love with photography and marketing and putting that whole world together. That’s what really intrigued me about fashion—you have the garments, you really get to put together this microcosm. You’re doing a shoot, working with models, working on campaigns—there are so many facets and sides of what goes into this industry. I think it’s kind of like being a director.

What were you like as a kid? Were you into getting dressed up?

I was a normal kid! I grew up in a small town in Connecticut and I went to small public schools. I was very fortunate to have a pretty normal life, looking back and considering how it could have been. My parents raised me pretty simply. I did normal stuff—climbing trees, things you do in the country. I had an awesome childhood.

moises de la renta
Image courtesy of Moises de la Renta
Moises de la Renta's Empire Hotel dresses

Do you remember the first show you went to of your dad’s?

Those memories are all kind of combined to one memory of going to my father’s office and going to the show. It’s family, so it’s special and a treat because I’m getting out of Connecticut, but at the same time it was a normalcy that other people don’t know.

My father’s been doing this for 40-odd years, and there are people in his company that have known me since I was born. I’ve always just thought of them as my parents’ friends. When you’re 10, 12, 15, I wasn’t thinking about that fashion stuff! Maybe kids these days are growing up younger, but I didn’t know about any of that stuff. A highlight of my youth was meeting Lisa Marie Presley at an event, and I met Elton John at a Vogue party in Paris once, and I was starstruck at the time—it wasn’t the center of my universe, fashion. It was just something that my parents did. It wasn’t really ‘til later in my life that I though it was something I wanted to pursue.

What are your goals for your own fashion career?

I just want to keep pushing myself. I want to be curious and challenged. I don’t know, there are a lot of things I’d like to do myself when the time is appropriate.

I want to bring more of a level of imagination and outside the box thinking to fashion. Fashion is fun and imaginative, but like any industry, things tend to get stagnant or stuck in a rut. There are so many things that can be done differently and better.

Who do you respect in the industry?

I respect people for different reasons. I may love someone’s advertising looks, someone else for their runway. Everyone brings something new to the table. I’m a big fan of Oscar de la Renta. I like Jil Sander, Calvin, Donna, Carolina Herrera I love. Diane von Furstenberg I’ve always loved forever. I think as a business person, I look up to her very very much. And pretty much all I wear is Ralph Lauren. I should say some younger, up-and-coming brands, but I’m old fashioned.

How would you describe your line?

MDLR is for the young, metropolitan woman. She’s an independent confident, strong, influential woman. Maybe a grad student or someone going to work. It’s clothes for the woman of today. The woman who wants to go out, and … I’m not going to say be seen, because there’s an understated elegance and chicness I try to present. She’s classical. A modern woman. The modern person in today’s time. A lot of today’s young people really have to, like, roll with the punches. Life is so crazy these days, and you have to have all these different occasions. I think practical clothes are so important.