Oscar de la Renta: The Retrospective Exhibit

"I believe that my sole purpose as a designer is to create something that I think a woman would want to wear."

-Oscar de la Renta

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the world premier exhibit of Oscar de la Renta: The Retrospective at the De Young Museum in San Francisco, CA. The exhibit was packed with visitors and full of surprises from gallery to gallery, featuring more than 130 pieces of his work. The garments were organized into several sections: his early work, daywear, evening wear, ball gowns, and red carpet ensembles. I loved learning more about de la Renta’s background and his creative journey in the world of fashion. My favorite highlights from the exhibit include his Spanish inspired designs, his stunning evening wear, and Vogue’s reenactment photograph.

As many of you know, Oscar de la Renta was a fashion designer born in the tropical island of the Dominican Republic. During his career, he spent more than 5 decades in the world of fashion were he expressed his modern sensibility combined with traditional and impeccable craftsmanship. He was inspired by the diverse cultures of the places where he lived and traveled throughout his life. He was passionate about textiles and embellishments and sourced only the best quality materials for his creations. Throughout his career he stayed true to his values and developed a wide range of ready to wear fashion designs coveted by women. Here is a sneak peek of some of the highlights from the exhibit.


In these Spanish inspired designs you can see how de la Renta infused elements from Spanish traditions like the flamenco dancer and the bullfighter into his garment designs.


First ladies, Hollywood stars and fashion insiders wore his evening wear and red carpet ensembles. The dresses above were worn by fashion icons and trendsetters including Jessica Parker and Nicki Minaj.


A previous 1948 photograph by Cecil Baton featuring dresses by Steven Meisel inspired this commission photograph by Vogue. The reenacted photograph told a story about the future of fashion while highlighting Oscar de la Renta’s important contribution in the world of fashion. It also redefined the standards of beauty at the time by featuring all Asian models with punk inspired hairstyles wearing Oscar de la Renta’s stunning garments.

I highly recommend going to this exhibit if you are in the Bay Area. This is a great weekend activity to experience with friends and family that appreciate art, fashion, and history. I advise buying the tickets in advance as it is a very popular exhibit and invest in the audio tour, which provides additional insights, interviews, and videos that ultimately enhance your viewing experience!