Oscar de la Renta: The Retrospective

Oscar de la Renta: The Retrospective
Oscar de la Renta, Evening dress, Spring 2012. Emerald-green silk taffeta, black Battenburg lace. Oscar de la Renta. (Peter Michael Dills/Getty Images)

World Premiere
de Young, San Francisco | March 12 – May 30, 2016

SAN FRANCISCO – The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco are pleased to present the world premiere retrospective of Oscar de la Renta’s work – the first major survey celebrating the life and career of one of fashion’s most influential designers. The exhibition is organized in close collaboration with the House of Oscar de la Renta and the designer’s family, and is curated by André Leon Talley, former American editor-at-large for Vogue and a lifelong friend of de la Renta.

Included are more than 130 ensembles produced over five decades. These garments are organized into several thematic sections: early work; Spanish, Eastern, Russian and garden influences; daywear and eveningwear; and ball gowns and red carpet ensembles. The presentation traces the rise of de la Renta’s 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 and 21st centuries.

“I am honored and excited to be the curator of the definitive Oscar de la Renta retrospective exhibition at the de Young museum,” said André Leon Talley. “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.”

“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.”

Ensembles in the exhibition will be drawn from the designer’s personal collection, the archives of the House of Balmain, public and private collections from around the world and the Fine Arts Museums’ costume collection. Viewers will see gowns worn by dignitaries and celebrities that include former First Lady Laura Bush, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Sarah Jessica Parker, Taylor Swift, Karlie Kloss, Nicki Minaj, Jessica Chastain, Penélope Cruz, Rihanna and Amy Adams.

"I am proud that the Fine Arts Museums can present this comprehensive collection of Oscar de la Renta's work,” 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.”

Oscar de le Renta: The Retrospective continues the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco’s commitment to fashion as art. Previous costume exhibitions include Vivienne Westwood: 36 Years in Fashion (2007), Yves Saint Laurent (2008–2009), Balenciaga and Spain (2011), The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk (2012) and most recently High Style: The Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection (2015).

About the Artist

Oscar de la Renta (1932-2014) left his native Dominican Republic at the age of eighteen to study painting at the Academy of San Fernando in Madrid. While living in Spain, he became interested in the world of design and began sketching for leading Spanish fashion houses, which soon led to an apprenticeship with Spain’s most renowned couturier, Cristóbal Balenciaga. Later, he left Spain to join Antonio Castillo as a couture assistant at the house of Lanvin in Paris. In 1963, he came to New York to design the couture collection for Elizabeth Arden. In 1965, Oscar de la Renta founded his signature ready-to-wear label and is among the world’s most prestigious fashion brands. For more information please visit oscardelarenta.com.

Media image gallery of exhibition images available here.
Media image gallery of archival images available here.

deyoungmuseum.org/delarenta | @deyoungmuseum | @oscardelarenta

Visiting | de Young
Golden Gate Park, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, San Francisco Open 9:30 a.m.– 5:15 p.m. Tuesdays–Sundays. Open select holidays; closed most Mondays.

Tickets start at $30
For adults, tickets start at $30 and include general admission; discounts are available for seniors, students, and youths. Special Premium tickets are also available. Members and children 5 and under are free. Prices subject to change, more information is available at deyoungmuseum.org/delarenta.

Exhibition Catalogue
Published on the occasion of this major retrospective exhibition, Oscar de la Renta is the first historical survey of the designer’s illustrious career. Three essays contextualize the designer’s achievements through the latter part of the 20th century and into the 21st. Molly Sorkin traces Oscar de la Renta’s life and how it influenced his artistic output. Jennifer Park reveals the designer’s influence on fashion photography and the image of the modern woman, and André Leon Talley shares personal glimpses into his working relationship and friendship with the artist. Oscar de la Renta includes a lavish selection of the designer’s sketches, runway and backstage shots, and photography from fashion magazines. Featuring exemplary garments from throughout the artist’s oeuvre, this volume offers copious views into Oscar de la Renta’s process, art and career. Hardcover and softcover, 280 pages.

Exhibition Organization
This exhibition is organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco with the collaboration of Oscar de la Renta LLC. Presenting Sponsors: Cynthia Fry Gunn and John A. Gunn. Director’s Circle: Diane B. Wilsey. Curator’s Circle: Lisa and Douglas Goldman Fund, The Diana Dollar Knowles Foundation, Marissa Mayer and Zachary Bogue, and Carl and Yurie Pascarella. Benefactor’s Circle: Paula and Bandel Carano, Stephanie and Jim Marver, Neiman Marcus, and Jennifer and Steven Walske. Patron’s Circle: Mrs. Carole McNeil and Mr. and Mrs. Joseph O. Tobin II. Additional support is provided by Mrs. George Hopper Fitch, and Mr. and Mrs. William Hamilton.

About the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, comprising the de Young in Golden Gate Park and the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park, are the largest public arts institution in San Francisco.

The de Young originated from the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition in Golden Gate Park and was established as the Memorial Museum in 1895. It was later renamed in honor of Michael H. de Young, who spearheaded its creation. The present copper-clad landmark building, designed by Herzog and de Meuron, opened in October 2005. It holds the institution’s significant collections of American painting, sculpture, and decorative arts from the 17th to the 21st centuries; art from Africa, Oceania, and the Americas; costume and textile arts; and international modern and contemporary art.

The Legion of Honor was inspired by the French pavilion at San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915 and, like that structure, was modeled after the neoclassical Palais de la Légion d’Honneur, in Paris. The museum, designed by George Applegarth, opened in 1924 on a bluff in Lincoln Park overlooking the Golden Gate. Its holdings span 4,000 years and include European painting, sculpture, and decorative arts; ancient art from the Mediterranean basin; and the largest collection of works on paper in the American West.

Media Contacts
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
Erin Garcia | egarcia@famsf.org

Oscar de la Renta
Edith Taichman | etaichman@odlr.com