From the moment I first read that an exhibition featuring the designs of Oscar de la Renta was arriving in Charlotte, this fashion girls heart almost exploded in excitement. While I’ve always dreamed of attending fashion week and seeing the latest collections by fashion houses that I’ve admired for so long, having the opportunity to see Oscar de la Renta’s creations in person here in Charlotte was a dream come true.
The exhibition, which will be on display at the Mint Museum – Randolph through July 29th opened to the public on April 29th, and features four collections (Garden, Evening, Spain, Eastern) by Oscar de la Renta.
Oscar de la Renta (1932-2014) had an award-winning career that spanned more than five decades and two continents. He was born in the Dominican Republic, and after a period of training in Madrid at Balenciaga in the 1950’s, and of working for Lanvin-Castillo in Paris from 1959 to 1962, he moved to New York in early 1963 to work for Elizabeth Arden. Two years later, he joined the ready-to-wear designer Jane Derby, first as a partner and eventually taking the reins of the company, changing its name to Oscar de la Renta. Lauded by the fashion press, he quickly gained prominence on the international fashion scene. De la Renta often drew inspiration from nature, art history, diverse cultures, and the women who wore his clothes.
Oscar de la Renta was one of the only New York designers to have his own workrooms on-site, which included a wide array of fabrics and trims to inspire the designer’s creative process. His sophisticated silhouettes, often ornately embellished with layered textures, required the skills of many tradespeople who worked directly under his supervision. De la Renta’s acclaimed craftsmanship led to his appointment in 1992 as Creative Director of the French fashion house Pierre Balmain, where he remained until 2002. As the first American to head a French couture house, he was celebrated for clothing that featured the impeccable techniques learned from his earliest training in haute couture.
The ensembles in this exhibition offer a window into Oscar de la Renta’s world through a range of looks – from elegant day wear to resplendent evening dresses. They amply demonstrate his innate talent, imagination and ability to build on existing themes in his work to create collections that were constantly evolving, season after season. The Glamour and Romance of Oscar de la Renta was created by Andre Leon Talley, contributing editor and former editor-at-large at Vogue magazine and a lifelong friend of the designer.” – Mint Museum
A garden is probably the most spiritual and pure of joys. It’s a communion with nature and beauty in the most simple and fundamental form. – Oscar de la Renta
The garden collection was one of my favorites from the exhibition, and featured dresses with floral embroidery and prints with delicate embellishments. In this collection and other’s created by De la Renta, you can see the influences of his love for the 18th century French style of Marie Antoinette and the patterns that were inspired by period French textiles.
What I try to do in my design is to make a woman dream. – Oscar de la Renta
While everyone from the social elite to celebrities embraced Oscar de la Renta’s designs, I love the fact that his wife, Annette de la Renta was his muse and gowns from her personal collection are featured in the exhibition. The delicate fabrics, cloud-like silhouettes created by layers of tulle, and the embellishments De la Renta added to his pieces made every gown featured in this exhibition more beautiful than the last.
What I saw in Spain colored the way I have looked at clothes ever since. – Oscar de la Renta
This quote alone tells you what sort of impact De la Renta’s time at the couture house of Balenciaga had on him as a designer. The people, customs and history of Spain all served as inspiration before he was even hired to start sketching designs for prospective clients at the well-known Spanish fashion house. Traces of the arts and culture of Spain along with the vibrant color palettes are ever-present in this collection. The black lace and court costumes that are featured in this particular exhibition were inspired by portraits of Francisco de Goya. I also loved the cascading ruffles in his designs that were inspired by his encounter with Pila Lopez (a well-known and widely celebrated flamenco dancer.)
I also loved the vibrant red of this custom evening ensemble featuring Silk taffeta and silk satin that was worn by Mica Ertegun to an event celebrating her 40th wedding anniversary in 2001.
I have always been attracted to the exotic, no question about it… I would always look at folklore and how people were dressed in different cultures… that’s what fascinates me. – Oscar de la Renta
This collection features furs, ornate textiles, and shows off De la Renta’s love for jeweled appliqué and embroidered trims. De la Renta was known to look to cultures from around the world for inspiration in his couture and ready-to-wear pieces, both of which are featured in this part of the exhibition.
I love this Evening dress designed in Fall of 2014 and worn by the supermodel and entrepreneur Karlie Kloss who met the designer when she was just 15 years old. Karlie has walked in the fashion shows and done campaigns for Dior, Louis Vuitton, Mac Jacobs, Oscar de la Renta and Versace.
Even after the De la Renta’s death in 2014, the fashion house continues his legacy…