Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts celebrates the life of Oscar de la Renta

Oscar de la Renta’s glamourous style is the subject of a new exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, which displays over 70 ensembles created by the Dominican designer to celebrate his life and career.


Museo de Bellas Artes de Huston

André Leon Talley, former Vogue editor-at-large, exhibition curator and lifelong friend of De la Renta, presents an overview of the designer’s work through the eyes of those who knew him well.

The exhibition, titled The Glamour and Romance of Oscar de la Renta, highlights the elegance, beauty, color, femininity and simplicity that became synonymous with his style throughout his career.

This is the third exhibition staged by Talley after the designer’s death, following previous shows at the Museum of Art of the University of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia in 2015 and at the Young Museum of San Francisco, California, in 2016.

De la Renta, considered one of the world’s most influential designers, was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic in 1932 and died on the 20th October 2014 in Connecticut aged 82 after an 8-year battle with cancer.

The designer left the Dominican Republic at 18 to study fine arts at the Academy of San Fernando in Madrid and was educated in the art of couture as an apprentice to the renowned Spanish couturier Cristobal Balenciaga in the 1950s. In 1961, he left Madrid to join Antonio del Castillo in Paris as an assistant in the couture department of Lanvin.

In the 1960s Oscar de la Renta moved to New York to establish his own eponymous label and became one of the leading designers, dressing famous Hollywood actresses and First Ladies including Nancy Reagan, Hillary Clinton y Laura Bush.

Alongside paintings and decorative objects which form part of the Museum of Fine Art’s permanent collection, the Oscar de la Renta exhibition is organized into four thematic sections based on the geographies that influenced his work.

Museo de Bellas Artes de Huston

The first section is dedicated to Spain, one of the most significant influences on de la Renta’s oeuvre, with ensembles dominated by red and black, tassels, embroidery, and cascading ruffles.

The next section explores the influence of China, Japan and Russia on de la Renta’s designs. Harem pants, caftans and Chinese-inspired garments are presented alongside luxurious furs, ornate textiles, and jeweled appliqué.

The exhibition also explores De la Renta’s love for the garden, one of his lifelong passions, and his interest in all things horticultural, developed at a young age on the grounds of his childhood home in the Dominican Republic. Botanical themes infused his creations throughout his career. The section displays embroidered dresses in vibrant colors, including the wedding dress he made for his stepdaughter Eliza Bolen.

The museum is also presenting the dress worn by lawyer Amal Alamuddin to marry George Clooney in Venice in 2014 – Oscar de la Renta’s last bespoke creation before his death.

“The exquisite designs on view demonstrate Oscar de la Renta’s innate talent, and the ability of his creative vision, drawn from rich and complex cultures around the world, to transcend well beyond the world of fashion,” commented Gary Tinterow, director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

There is also a selection of night gowns once worn by dignitaries, celebrities, and philanthropists, including Penelope Cruz, Kirsten Dunst, Karlie Kloss, Laura Bush, and Lynn Wyatt.

The exhibition is presented in collaboration with Oscar de la Renta LLC with support of fashion experts from the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and historians Molly Sorkin and Jennifer Park.

Translated by Barbara Santamaria

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