Oscar de la Renta was adored by women worldwide, but especially by socialites throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. How apropos that a world premiere retrospective of the iconic fashion designer’s amazing work – the first major survey celebrating the life and career of one of fashion’s most influential designers- will take place at the de Young Museum next year.
The exhibition, scheduled for February 27, 2016 – May 30, 2016, is being presented in collaboration with the house of Oscar de la Renta and the designer’s family. De la Renta succumbed to cancer last October. “The Oscar Show,” as Saks Fifth Avenue’s and the League to Save Lake Tahoe’s annual luncheon and fashion show with de la Renta had become known, took place for 15 years and was the highlight of Tahoe’s summer season. Over the years, he built close relationships with several of the Bay Area’s most well-dressed women, including Dede Wilsey and Komal Shah.
“We are so honored to present this exhibition celebrating the life and work of Oscar de la Renta,” said Colin B. Bailey, director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. “His approach to design, informed by his broad culture and his studies in art history, displays an enduring classicism.”
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.
“I am honored and excited to be the curator of the definitive Oscar de la Renta retrospective exhibition at the de Young Museum,” Talley said. “This privilege is exceedingly important for me after years of close friendship with Oscar, as well as a strong working relationship during my life at Vogue. My goal is to highlight the extraordinary depth of Oscar’s creative aesthetic from his earliest designs for Jane Derby throughout the five decades of his remarkable career.”
The exhibition will present more than 100 ensembles produced over five decades. Thematic sections will trace his upbringing in the Dominican Republic; the rise of his 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 century.
“Both our company and our family are proud that the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco are organizing the first full-scale retrospective of Oscar’s work,” said Alex Bolen, CEO of Oscar de la Renta. “The museums’ outstanding collections, augmented by open access to our archives, all viewed through the curatorial eye of Oscar’s dear friend André Leon Talley will convey well the unique artistry that Oscar brought to the world of fashion.”
For this presentation, de la Renta’s company will open its archives to illuminate both the breadth and depth of his work. Additional pieces in the exhibition will be drawn from the designer’s personal collection, private lenders from around the world and the Fine Arts Museums’ costume collection.
“I am proud that the Fine Arts Museums can present this comprehensive collection of Oscar de la Renta’s work,” said Wilsey, president of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. “He was an inspired designer who was a long-time personal friend and was considered by so many to be the consummate gentleman.”
This exhibition deepens the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco’s commitment to fashion as art. Previous costume exhibitions include The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk (2012), Balenciaga and Spain (2011), Yves Saint Laurent (2008–2009) and Vivienne Westwood: 36 Years in Fashion (2007). High Style: The Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection opens at the Legion of Honor on March 14 and runs through July 19, 2015.