San Francisco’s de Young Museum will hold a retrospective featuring the works of fashion designer Oscar de la Renta, whose iconic looks dominated the industry for so many decades. The exhibit will provide insights into de la Renta’s beginning in the fashion industry and his lasting influence on it. The tribute will include an exhibit of more than 130 items designed by de la Renta, highlighting changes in his evolving, classic style over 50 years of work.
The de Young’s many exhibits are made possible through donations by supporters like Lisa and Douglas Goldman, Thom Weisel, and the archives of the House of Balmain, who contributed a number of pieces to the de la Renta exhibit. The show is curated by André Leon Talley, former editor-at-large at Vogue and a close friend of the designer’s.
The exhibit is organized into multiple sections, ranging from era to style of influence. Some sections feature daywear or eveningwear, ball gowns, or celebrity wear. De la Renta designed hundreds of outfits worn by film and music stars to important events like the Oscars. He also designed outfits for politicians like Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush.
“My goal is to highlight the extraordinary depth of Oscar’s creative aesthetic from his earliest designs for Jane Derby through five decades of his remarkable career,” said Talley.
De la Renta was born and raised in the Dominican Republic. He left home at 18 to study painting in Madrid, where he became interested in form and fashion. He earned his first job in the fashion industry in 1961 while on a vacation to Paris, and two years later, de la Renta had moved to New York to pursue a career with the then-major Elizabeth Arden fashion house. He created his own label several years later in 1965 and women around the world adored his romantic, elegant, and flattering silhouettes.
De la Renta died of cancer-related causes in 2014. He was 82.
“I am proud that the Fine Arts Museums can present this comprehensive collection,” said Diane B. Wilsey, president of the Board of Trustees of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. He “was an inspired designer who was a longtime personal friend and was considered by so many to be the consummate gentleman.”
The retrospective at the De Young will run until May 30th.