Want an excuse to venture off to Houston, Texas? For all you fashion aficionados and art enthusiasts The Museum of Fine Arts Houston is just the spot for you. From now until January 28, 2018 the museum will be featuring the work of designer, Oscar de la Renta in a fashion exhibit aptly titled, The Glamour and Romance of Oscar de la Renta. The ensemble dedicated exhibition features over 70 garments and other accessories donated from the archives of Oscar de la Renta, Pierre Balmain and numerous celebrities, socialites and dignitaries, including, Houston native, Beyoncé Knowles Carter, Amal Clooney, Taylor Swift, Penelope Cruz, former First Lady Laura Bush, and Texas’ own fashion icon Lynn Wyatt. Curated by Andre Leon Talley, a long time friend of de la Renta, the exhibit shows the inspiration that led de la Renta to create some of his most iconic pieces, drawing much creativity from different cultures, countries, art and history.
It’s easy to see the heavy influence Spain had on Oscar de la Renta’s creative process. The first room in the exhibit is dedicated to the country that held significance for him. You are greeted with three finely dressed ladies in flamenco attire created by de la Renta during his reign with French fashion house, Balmain (1993-2002). The use of silk, silk taffetta, bead and sequin embroidery on a palette of bright colors truly embody the art. culture, and dance history of Flamenco.
Oscar de la Renta’s creative inspiration didn’t just stem from certain countries but even geographical regions spanning the Middle to the Far East. The Far and Middle East helped de la Renta draw from the rich, exotic history, but also through the women who resided in this region; whether they were real clients, or fictional characters, like Scheherazade, a prominent figure in the timeless Arabian Nights story. Upon reading about the influential impact, viewers will first see 4 caftans ranging from various collections throughout his career. The details in this portion of the exhibit are more intricate than the designs of Spain. The designs of the East feature intricate stitching, bead work and various embroidered prints, paisley being one of them.
Balmain played a big part in Oscar de la Renta’s career. His leadership as creative designer lasted between 1993-2002. In the brand’s history, de la Renta is the most famous and influential designer to bring haute couture back to the company name. Far from an overtly flashy man, his designs for Balmain helped to give the aesthetic we know and love today. Viewers get an up-close peak of all the intricacies that added to the Balmain image, from embroidery to fur, when they travel to Russia, the second country featured in the exhibit.
The standout of the exhibition is Amal Clooney’s wedding dress, shown in the Garden collection of the tour. It is the piece that sums up the entire collection, one of the most feminine pieces you’ll find in the museum and the last wedding gown he designed before his death in 2014. The off-shoulder, ivory, beaded-tulle gown is breathtaking in person! The exaggerated veil peacefully draped over the mannequin adds an ethereal presence to the gown and the entire room. It’s hard to believe Mrs. Clooney agreed to loan it out, but that is further proof of how loved Oscar de la Renta was. After witnessing this stunner of a gown further research ensued. According to Vogue, the gown was appliquéd with 14 yards of Chantilly lace. The gown features a hand embroidered bodice with beading and crystals, however the embellishments never overpower the dress. The embroidery of lace, beads and crystals are even placed on the veil descending down the back of the dress. Pictures don’t do it justice! This is Oscar de la Renta at his most finest!
One of the many beautiful details about this exhibit is that de la Renta’s gowns are paired with different pieces of art that helps set the ambiance of the room. Viewers are given a sense of what he was inspired from and the pieces of art, whether they’re paintings, furniture, or other decorative motifs, just proves that art and fashion both borrow from one another and are a beautiful marriage of inspiration.
Oscar de la Renta had a knack for making his gowns theatrical and always photo ready. His eveningwear has graced the bodies of the world’s most iconic women because they know that a de la Renta dress is a magical, dreamlike experience; easily landing you on the best dressed list. Oscar was a man who believed in romance, a trait that is prevalent in his expressions of femininity and elegance. The Glamour and Romance of Oscar de la Renta is an exhibition that pays tribute to a man’s love of romance, history, art, culture, and the female body. That man was Oscar de la Renta. And there will never be another like him.
Many thanks to The Museum of Fine Arts Houston!
The Glamour and Romance of Oscar de la Renta is on view until January 28, 2018