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Oscar de la Renta: The Retrospective

Oscar de la Renta: The Retrospective

March 12, 2016May 30, 2016

Oscar de la Renta

THE RETROSPECTIVE

MAR 12 – MAY 30, 2016

HERBST EXHIBITION GALLERIES
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Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin. Oscar de la Renta, 2006. Inez and Vinoodh/Trunk Archive

Overview

Overview

Oscar de la Renta’s designs celebrated the best in us—beauty, optimism, and confidence. Including more than 130 ensembles, this world-premiere retrospective pays tribute to one of the most beloved and influential fashion icons of our time.

Follow the rise of Oscar’s career, first in Spain where he gained his initial commissions, through his formative years spent in many of the world’s iconic fashion houses, to his eventual role as a designer for some of the most influential and celebrated personalities of the 20th and 21st centuries.

1950s

1950s

"I was picking pins from the floor"

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Quote: Jennifer Park, Molly Sorkin, and André Leon Talley, Oscar de la Renta (San Francisco and New York: Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and DelMonico Books • Prestel, 2016), 33.

Photo: Baroness Aino Bodisco (L), looking on as Beatrice Lodge (C) is being fitted by fashion designer Oscar De La Renta (L fore) in her debutante dress, 1956.

(Nina Leen/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)

Madrid is electric. Oscar’s nights are filled with literary salons and tapas bars, flamenco dancers and the beau monde. His father has asked that he return to the Dominican Republic to join the insurance business, but Oscar—now madly sketching for newspapers, magazines, and designers to earn extra money—sees a very different career unfolding: fashion.

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1950s

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Oscar de la Renta, 1940s.
Image courtesy of Oscar de la Renta Archive
  Jill D’Alessandro / Curator of Textile Arts, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Jill D’Alessandro / Curator of Costume and Textile Arts, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

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John Singer Sargent, El Jaleo, 1882. Oil on canvas.
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston

1960s

1960s

“I’d come to New York because I believed the future of fashion was in ready-to-wear”

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Quote: Sarah Mower, Oscar: The Style, Inspiration, and Life of Oscar de la Renta (New York: Assouline Publishing, 2002), 73.

Photo: Oscar de la Renta with Naty Abascal, 1960s.

Image courtesy of Oscar de la Renta Archive

 

Paris is where Oscar refines his craft, but New York beckons. His very first night in Manhattan, he’s introduced to cosmetics mogul Elizabeth Arden. (He has had the presence of mind to pack a tuxedo for just this sort of encounter.) She offers him a job the following morning. Two years later, his name will be on the label of his own collection.

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1960s

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Wool coat by Oscar de la Renta for Elizabeth Arden, fall 1963.
Image courtesy of Oscar de la Renta LLC
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House photograph of an evening dress of gold and pink silk damask, Elizabeth Arden by Oscar de la Renta, autumn/winter 1963.
Image courtesy of Oscar de la Renta LLC
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Naty Abascal wearing an evening dress of printed brown and mauve silk chiffon with gold appliqué and rhinestones, fall 1969.
Image courtesy of Oscar de la Renta LLC

MEMORIES OF OSCAR
Diane B. Wilsey

“There was a young designer with her, someone that I didn’t know then would later be famous.”

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Memories of Oscar

Diane B. Wilsey

Devoted client and friend

In 1963, Oscar was working for Elizabeth Arden, who was a good friend of my mother. Elizabeth was coming to do a show in Newport at Marble House, which was next to our own house. There was a young designer with her, someone that I didn’t know then would later be famous. It was Oscar, and Elizabeth turned to my mother and said, “I think you should learn this man’s name. He’s really going to go somewhere.”

The next day Oscar and I went and had lunch together. I was wearing Emilio Pucci, who was all the rage at the time, and in those days we wore our hair in a beehive. It was designed to stay up, but I had a stray strand that kept flying in the wind from the ocean, and I thought, “Here I am, with this young designer, and my hair won’t stay put.” I asked him if he had a bobby pin, and he reached over and found one. I just felt that comfortable with him the day after I met him.

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Oscar de la Renta and Dede Wilsey.
Image courtesy of Drew Altizer Photography

1970s

1970s

“No one had seen people move in that way....There was some magic to it”

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Quote: Jennifer Park, Molly Sorkin, and André Leon Talley, Oscar de la Renta (San Francisco and New York: Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and DelMonico Books • Prestel, 2016), 52.

Photo: Oscar de la Renta backstage with Countess Jacqueline de Ribes at the Battle of Versailles on November 28, 1973.

Image courtesy of Oscar de la Renta Archive

The foundations of old-world European haute couture are shaking. In a transatlantic challenge, five French designers invite five Americans to show at an event that will become known as the “Battle of Versailles.” The Americans are a sensation, and new world order in fashion is at hand. For Oscar, the stage is set for empire.

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1970s

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© 2014 by Versailles '73: American Runway Revolution Film
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Oscar de la Renta evening ensemble; blouse and skirt, ca. 1978. Apple green and gold silk taffeta. Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
Image © The Museum at FIT
  Excerpt from Versailles ’73: American Runway Revolution

Excerpt from Versailles ’73: American Runway Revolution

1980s

1980s

“In the eighties, it was back into rich, opulent clothes, which were my thing”

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Quote: Sarah Mower, Oscar: The Style, Inspiration, and Life of Oscar de la Renta (New York: Assouline Publishing, 2002), 76.

Photo: Oscar de la Renta with evening looks from spring 1982.

Image courtesy of Oscar de la Renta Archive

The eighties are a decade made for Oscar: a lavish celebration of American might and confidence. He is a frequent guest at the White House for dinner, where the dour mood of the previous decade has given way to extravagant glamour. Oscar’s dresses are bold, his friends are powerful, and his business acumen is ever sharper.

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1980s

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All four images: Oscar de la Renta caftan, spring 1982. Hand-painted silk crepe de chine. Kent State University Museum, Silverman/Rodgers Collection.
Photo courtesy of the Kent State University Museum, photography by Erin Burns
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Evening dress of embroidered silk organza, spring 1982.
Image courtesy of Oscar de la Renta Archive
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Caftan of hand-painted print silk, summer 1982.
Image courtesy of Oscar de la Renta Archive

1990s

1990s

“Today, people—clothes—are international. Frontiers are non-existent”

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Quote: Jennifer Park, Molly Sorkin, and André Leon Talley, Oscar de la Renta (San Francisco and New York: Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and DelMonico Books • Prestel, 2016), 55.

Photo: (Far Right) Oscar de la Renta for Pierre Balmain evening dress, autumn/winter 1999–2000. Black silk velvet, white silk embroidery and appliqué. Pierre Balmain.

(Victor Vir gile/Getty Images)

Oscar stands astride the globe, one foot in Paris and the other in America. Having joined Pierre Balmain, he is now the first American designer to head a French couture house. His travel between Europe and New York earns him the nickname the “Concorde Couturier.” His is a new kind of global brand.

read more »

1990s

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Oscar de la Renta for Pierre Balmain evening bolero, Haute Couture, autumn/winter 1993-1994. Gold lamé, passementerie and rhinestone appliqué. Pierre Balmain.
Image courtesy of Pierre Balmain
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(On Right) Oscar de la Renta for Pierre Balmain evening dress autumn/winter, 1998–1999. Silk taffeta, bead, sequin and metallic thread embroidery, chenille yarn. Texas Fashion Collection, University of North Texas, College of Visual Arts and Design.
(Victor Virgile/Getty Images)
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Oscar de la Renta for Pierre Balmain evening ensemble, tunic and pants, autumn/winter 1999–2000. Black silk velvet, gold silk appliqué. Pierre Balmain.
Image courtesy of Pierre Balmain
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Oscar de la Renta for Pierre Balmain evening ensemble, coat and pants, autumn/winter 1997–1998. Metallic stenciled silk velvet, sable, brown silk taffeta. Pierre Balmain.
Image courtesy of Pierre Balmain
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Konstantin Makovsky, The Russian Bride’s Attire, 1889. Oil on canvas.
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, bequest of M.H. de Young, 53161

MEMORIES OF OSCAR
André Leon Talley

“His knowledge of literature, art, music, and social history was amazing.”

Read more

Memories of Oscar

André Leon Talley

Former editor-at-large, Vogue, and exhibition curator

Often in Paris, Oscar and I would have long conversations, and his knowledge of literature, art, music, and social history was amazing. He could literally talk about almost anything. At one point, a discussion turned to the inspiration for one of the most important female Proustian characters: Oriane, Duchesse de Guermantes. Proust makes exquisite descriptions of Oriane’s wardrobe at every turn. Every detail is narrated to convey the importance of the Duchess and her impact on society through her elegance, her wit—and her clothes. Annette de la Renta, one of the world’s best-dressed and most elegant women, was the Oriane of Oscar’s private existence and his professional world. She was not only the love of his life, but his muse. So many of Annette’s clothes are of dazzling beauty.

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André Leon Talley and Oscar De La Renta during André Leon Talley Book Signing at Rinozzoli Book Store in New York City, July 2005.
(Shareif Ziyadat/Getty Images)

2000s

2000s

“The twenty-first century is the century of the woman”

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Quote: Sarah Mower, Oscar: The Style, Inspiration, and Life of Oscar de la Renta (New York: Assouline Publishing, 2002), 81.

Photo: (On Left) Oscar de la Renta evening dress, fall 2013. Violet silk faille, metallic embroidery. Oscar de la Renta; (On Right) Oscar de la Renta evening dress, fall 2013. Fuchsia silk faille, metallic embroidery. Oscar de la Renta.

(Victor Virgile/Getty Images)

Oscar is an icon. He has dressed four First Ladies—Betty Ford, Nancy Reagan, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and Laura Bush. His looks regularly appear on the red carpet, flashbulb-lit dramas starring Rihanna, Penélope Cruz, and Sarah Jessica Parker. He is the grand marshal of parades and is honored by royalty. Perhaps most importantly, he is beloved by friends, family, patrons, and colleagues.

read more »

2000s

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Oscar de la Renta day ensemble, 2005.
Mrs. Laura Bush & George W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum. (Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images)
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Photo: Oscar de la Renta evening ensemble; dress and wrap, 2002. Printed chiné silk taffeta.
On loan courtesy of Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton. (Richard Corkery/Getty Images)

“He is a great American, and a great friend”

-Hillary Clinton i
Quote: Sarah Mower, Oscar: The Style, Inspiration, and Life of Oscar de la Renta (New York: Assouline Publishing, 2002), 94.
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(Getty Images)
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Image 1 & 2: Oscar de la Renta evening dress, pre-fall 2012. Pleated silver lamé. Oscar de la Renta. Image 3 & 4: Oscar de la Renta evening dress, Resort 2012. White silk faille, red and green silk embroidery and appliqué. Image 5 & 6: Oscar de la Renta evening dress, spring 2012. Emerald-green silk taffeta, black Battenburg lace. (Jason Merritt/Getty Images).
Image 1 & 2: (Mike Marsland/Getty Images). Image courtesy of Oscar de la Renta. Image 3 & 4: (Dave M. Benett/Getty Images). (Jemal Countess/Getty Images) Image 5 & 6: (Jason Merritt/Getty Images). (Peter Michael Dills/Getty Images).
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Steven Meisel. Asia Major with Liu Wen, So Young, Kang, Du Juan, Lily Zhil, Bonnie Chen, Huyn Lee/SILENT models NY, Tao Okamoto, Hyoni Kang/FORD Model. Evening dress of chartreuse silk faille; evening dress of black silk taffeta and point d'esprit lace; evening dress of ivory silk faille, silk tulle, and silk satin ribbon; evening dress of pink silk organza, eggshell cord embroidery, and pink silk faille; evening dress of salmon-pink silk faille; evening dress of gray silk taffeta and black silk tulle; evening dress of pale-pink and gold silk organza and gold lamé; and evening dress of green silk faille and pink and green silk embroidery and appliqueé, all spring 2011.
Originally published in Vogue, December 2010. Steven Meisel/Art+Commerce
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Oscar de la Renta evening dress, spring 2011. Pale-pink and gold silk organza, gold lamé.
Image courtesy of Oscar de la Renta
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Oscar de la Renta evening dress, spring 2011. Chartreuse silk faille. Private Collection.
Image courtesy of Oscar de la Renta
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Oscar de la Renta evening dress, spring 2011. Salmon-pink silk faille.
Image courtesy of Oscar de la Renta
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Oscar de la Renta evening ensemble, dress and bolero, spring 2011. Ivory silk faille, silk tulle, and silk satin ribbon; palatine tulle and lamé dot embroidered bolero. Private Collection
Image courtesy of Oscar de la Renta

Exhibition Info

Exhibition Info

EXHIBITION

Oscar de la Renta: The Retrospective
March 12, 2016 – May 30, 2016

HERBST EXHIBITION GALLERIES

This world premiere retrospective of Oscar de la Renta’s work celebrates the life and career of one of fashion’s most influential designers. The exhibition will include more than 130 pieces produced over five decades, and is presented in collaboration with the house of de la Renta and the designer’s family. These garments are organized into several thematic sections: early work; Spanish, Eastern, Russian and garden influences; daywear and eveningwear; and ball gowns and red carpet ensembles. The presentation traces the rise of de la Renta’s career in Spain, where he gained his first commissions; his formative years spent in the world’s most iconic fashion houses; and his eventual role as a designer for many of the most influential and celebrated personalities of the 20th and 21st centuries.

André Leon Talley, former American editor-at-large for Vogue magazine, will curate the exhibition. His depth of knowledge and lifelong friendship with de la Renta will provide an unmatched perspective on the designer’s career.

For this presentation, de la Renta’s company will open its archives to illuminate both the breadth and depth of the designer’s work. Additional pieces will be drawn from the designer’s personal collection, private lenders from around the world, and the Fine Arts Museums’ costume collection.

Watch the Opening Day Conversation here.

@deyoungmuseum #OscardelaRenta

Ticket info

  • Tue-Sun
  • Premium* $50
  • Premiums (Members) $30
  • Adults $30
  • Seniors (65+) $25
  • Students (w/ current ID) $15
  • Youths (6–17) $15
  • Children (5 and under) FREE
  • Members FREE
  • Audio tours available: $8 General | $7 Members

Audio tour also available on de Young App: $5.99 General & Members

*Premium ticketholders can experience the exhibition at any time during the selected day for maximum flexibility.

Ticket includes same-day general admission to the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park. Groups of 10 or more have access to priority booking, discounted tickets, and private tours.  Learn more.

Due to space constraints, strollers are not permitted in the special exhibition. Staff members can provide secure parking for your stroller during your visit, and Baby Bjorn carriers are available for loan.

SPONSORS

This exhibition is organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco with the collaboration of Oscar de la Renta LLC.

Presenting Sponsors: Cynthia Fry Gunn and John A. Gunn. Director’s Circle: Diane B. Wilsey. Curator’s Circle: Lisa and Douglas Goldman Fund, The Diana Dollar Knowles Foundation, Marissa Mayer and Zachary Bogue, and Yurie and Carl Pascarella. Benefactor’s Circle: Paula and Bandel Carano, Stephanie and Jim Marver, Neiman Marcus, and Jennifer and Steven Walske. Patron’s Circle: The Fairmont San Francisco, Mrs. Carole McNeil, Mrs. Komal Shah and Mr. Gaurav Garg, Mary Beth and David Shimmon, and Mr. and Mrs. Joseph O. Tobin II. Additional support is provided by Mrs. George Hopper Fitch, and Mr. and Mrs. William Hamilton. Media Sponsors: San Francisco Chronicle and San Francisco magazine.

Exhibition design by Kevin Daly Architects.

 

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