Oscar de la Renta Exhibition at the de Young Museum

When it comes to red carpet fashion, one of the top designer names heard is Oscar de la Renta. So when I was asked to tag along to the Oscar de la Renta: The Retrospective  exhibition press event this morning with publisher Nikki Wood, executive editor Mimi Towle and assistant editor Kasia Pawlowska, I was intrigued. Not knowing about the history of de la Renta fashion, and wanting to take snaps for Marin Magazine's Instagram, I figured the experience would be educational, fun and allow me to channel my inner Carrie Bradshaw for a couple hours.

Walking through this world premiere exhibition of de la Renta's work is truly an experience one should partake in. It includes more than 130 pieces produced over five decades and is divided into sections: his early work, including Spanish, Eastern and Russian influences; day-wear and evening-wear influenced by gardens; and ball gowns and red carpet gowns.

The exhibition is curated by former editor at large for American Vogue, André Leon Talley, and we were able to sit and listen to his Q&A at the museum. He worked closely with de la Renta and provided a plethora of personal tidbits and information about the late fashion designer.

Here are a few things I learned about Oscar de la Renta while walking through the exhibition:

  • De la Renta was born in the Dominican Reublic in 1932 and after training in Spain at Balenciaga and working for Lanvin-Castillo in Paris, he moved to the United States to work for Elizabeth Arden.
  • De la Renta took part in a fashion show that pitted American designers against their French counterparts and his show, different than what most had seen until that time, granted de la Renta a standing ovation. Side note: he played Barry White's "Love's Theme" as the runway song.
  • De la Renta's designs reflect his dedication to making every woman "feel wonderful about herself" at any shape and size.
  • He drew influence from European history (18th century France), the Golden Age of Spain, Chinese embroideries, Indian textiles, Japanese woodblock prints, traditional Russian fabrics and more.
  • De la Renta was an avid gardener in both his Dominican Republic and Conneticut homes leading to him to have botanical themes in his work, including: floral-printed silk taffetas, appliquéd flowers and soft ruffles.

Who knows when this exhibition will make its way back around to San Francisco again, so if you have the time to see it, do.

If You Go:

When: March 12 – May 30, Tuesday through Friday, times vary

Where: de Young Museum, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr in San Francisco

Cost: Prices vary (click here) $30–$50


photo by kasia pawlowska