The work of one of America's greatest fashion designers will be front and center this fall in a major retrospective at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The Glamour and Romance of Oscar de la Renta, which opens October 8, will celebrate the life and six-decade career of the famed fashion designer, featuring 90 ensembles, including chic daywear as well as spectacular evening and bridal gowns he was known for.
The exhibition, curated by noted fashion writer André Leon Talley, a close friend of the designer, will draw from de la Renta's corporate and personal archives, as well as the archives of the French label Pierre Balmain, where de la Renta served as chief designer between 1993 and 2002; private lenders; and the MFAH costume collection.
The historic overview highlights such varied influences on de la Renta's work as Spanish flamenco dancers, Russian literature, and his beloved Connecticut garden as well as his role as the go-to designer for many of the most influential and celebrated personalities of the 20th and 21st centuries, including former first ladies Hillary Clinton, Nancy Reagan, and Laura Bush, and a host of Hollywood stars and society titans.
Talley, who has authored Oscar de la Renta: His Legendary World of Style, previously was involved in exhibitions at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in 2015 and at the de Young Museum in San Francisco last year highlighting de la Renta's illustrious career. Organizers say the Houston exhibition will be different as Talley is working with Cindi Strauss, the MFAH Sara and Bill Morgan Curator of Decorative Arts, Craft and Design, and fashion historians Molly Sorkin and Jennifer Park, as well as officials at Oscar de la Renta LLC to present a unique perspective on the designer, who died in 2014.
“He was the ultimate romantic, and every dress made a woman feel the most beautiful she could ever possibly feel,” Talley told Vanity Fair magazine before the de Young show debuted. "And for those who knew him, you [also] wore him because you loved him.”
The exhibition will also serve as the theme for the museum's annual Grand Gala Ball on October 6. De la Renta's daughter, Eliza Bolen, and her husband, Oscar de la Renta CEO Alex Bolen, are expected to attend, along with the label's new designers, Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia.
The exhibition will run through January 28, 2018, in the museum's Audrey Jones Beck Building.