Oscar… Oscar de la Renta, that is

April 5, 2016

Oscar-de-la-RentaOscar de la Renta died in 2014, but left an amazing and varied body of work. His fashions ranged from simple and elegant to over-the-top costumey to frothy, feminine designs made for a fairy princess.

There’s nothing I like better than a costume exhibition, so when his came to the DeYoung in San Francisco, I was thrilled.  Once I got there? Enthralled is a better word. And spellbound. So come along and I’ll show you some of the highlights of his most beautiful fashion designs.


Color and fabric, that’s what you want to look at. Because his color choices were out of this world and fabric–and the way he manipulated it to get the effects he wanted–amazing, especially close up.

all about the tulle1000Before we go any further, I have to say that I am all about the tulle. His tulle gowns took my breath away. I mean, click on that gorgeous pink confection of a gown so you can get a close up view. It is GORGEOUS. Fit for the fairy princess that many women secretly want to be.

Oh wait. You don’t like pink? How about this one?


The color and the way he cut the tulle? Exquisite.  I couldn’t take my eyes off it.  In fact, several of us had to lean in to admire more closely.  And speaking of how he manipulated tulle, here’s a close-up of a black tulle skirt so you can see how unique his work was.
Oscar-de-la-RentaAs I leaned in to really look at the way he worked the tulle, the man next to me kept saying, “Oh my! Oh my!” I couldn’t blame him. This skirt showed a mastery of tulle beyond imagining.

Then there was tulle with lace and ostrich feathers.


It’s all about the detail. What was so clear about this piece? That every element made the design. Without the tulle wrap, it wouldn’t have been the same dress.   Not to mention the contrast of the lace. Stunning.

If I remember correctly, these delightful dresses below were from the 1980s.


But the bubble silhouette came back in recent years. Note the color and fabric choices. His range was astonishing.


I love a beautiful caftan and have three linen or cotton caftans that I like to wear when I’m lounging around the house. Of course, they don’t hold a candle to this beautiful piece. Again, comparing all these fashions even so far, his range is unreal.


I love the kimono-like tie on this design.

This was one of my favorites in the collection shown. The slim pants were the most gorgeous green and the coat took my breath away. Not to mention the lining.  I’m not sure I like the pearls with it–to me, it stands alone. Beautifully. Oh, now I’m thinking again. Maybe they do work.

Oscar-de-la-RentaI wouldn’t wear it, myself, but it’s very eye-catching and on the right woman? Ahhh. And yet he could go from this, to…


Sleek, simple, sexy.

This was another of my favorites:
Oscar-de-la-Renta The photograph doesn’t show the beautiful gold color of the bodice. This design was so graceful.

Oscar-de-la-RentaTo me, this dress is all about the color and design of the skirt. It was ravishing.

I couldn’t stop looking at what Oscar de la Renta did with the lace on this one:

Oscar-de-la-RentaThe entire combination is exquisite.

And yet, he could do designs like these:

Oscar-de-la-RentaI didn’t think these were as amazing as the others I’m presenting here, but they do show his range and ability to design for different types of women.
Oscar-de-la-RentaThese fur pants cuffs were fiendishly fun.

Oscar-de-la-RentaThis was so elegant.

Oscar-de-la-rentaOn a different gown, this crinkled pink silk taffeta was wonderful.

Oscar-de-la-RentaNot quite as girly but beautiful in its own right. The photograph doesn’t do it justice.


We saw quite a few designs that were, for lack of a better term, Nancy Reagan-esque. Conservative. We didn’t like them as well as others. This teal waistband is an unexpected touch that takes the gown a little out of that territory.


In its day this vinyl and rhinestone ensemble was something. It’s still something, but nothing that I would want.


This magnificent fur-trimmed coat was a showstopper.


A bewitching frock in the Spanish tradition. For me, it’s on the costume-y side, but nonetheless, the work is marvelous.

Could these beautiful pieces all be from the same designer? Yes. Oscar de la Renta had a long, distinguished career in fashion, starting at Elizabeth Arden. His tenure at Balmain was marked by some of his most resplendent designs and many were on display in San Francisco.  He was 82 when he died, but his fashions will live on, of that I’m certain.

46 comments on “Oscar… Oscar de la Renta, that is
  1. I loved Oscar de la Renta because his designs were always exquisite in design and detail. I also love the tulle and would love to wear it even once. I can imagine Audrey Hepburn or Grace Kelly wearing these styles perfectly.

    Although not a designer I enjoyed seeing the Jacqueline Kennedy exhibit at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan a few years ago. They displayed the clothes she wore while in the White House, including gowns and jewelry. My friends and I could not walk slow enough to see it all. Took a long time! Exquisite.

    Wonderful post, Carol. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  2. Elena Peters says:

    Just wow! This is fabulous! You took some spectacular pics. I wonder if it’s a travelling eco it because I would love to go see this myself. Thank you so much for sharing!

  3. Robin Masshole Mommy says:

    Some of those are very unique. Not practical at all, but cool to see on a maniquin for sure.

  4. GiGi Eats says:

    That right there is some out-side-of-the-box thinking!!

  5. Barbara says:

    I’m with the man next to you on every one of these. Oh my! Oh my!

  6. Leanne says:

    It must have been amazing to see this up close and personal (it looks great in the photos and they never do stuff like this justice). I love his colours and those beautiful ballgowns suck me in every time 🙂

  7. Laurie says:

    His designs are beautiful they are more like works of art then an article of clothing

  8. Anita Irlen says:

    Even though he wasn’t one of my favorites, oh and ah! Great post.

  9. Thank you for the education! Being from the Midwest these are names we only heard about at the Oscars. It’s nice to hear about the man as well as his inspirations. I love the black and green at the very beginning the best.

  10. quin B. says:

    I love them all! Especially the fur pant cuffs! I need some of those in my life, stat!

  11. Emma white says:

    I would love to go to one of these! These dresses are beautiful, I love the style of the bronze one, although I do like the colour its so unusual but I don’t think I could wear it in that colour xx

  12. Sabrina Fox says:

    I love all of these dresses! They are so amazing and creative. I especially love the pink one near the main top. That one was my favorite.

  13. tara pittman says:

    Such pretty dresses. I would love to wear one for the military ball.

  14. OMG! What a fun show! I love the pics, the fashions, and all the colors. Pinned a couple!

  15. Oh what a vicarious kick I just got through your camera! You’re absolutely right in your assessment of his strengths. Those tulle creations are little souffle masterpieces. Have you seen the documentary “Dior and I”? It highlights the seamstresses who must execute the designer’s vision. Fascinating.

  16. Glenda says:

    When we loss Oscar, the fashion industry lost a master. He truly was a wonderful soul with an incredible understanding of the female form and what we love. Even his Ready to Wear collections looked Couture.

  17. Zowie!!! What a master he was. A few misses (for me), but isn’t it wonderful, when a master is left free to create?

  18. OMG! The exhibit looks amazing. I loved Oscar, he was one of the best designers. There is really no one like him. They should do a MET Costume Exhibit in his honor.

  19. These outfits are so exquisite and beautiful. I love the lace and ostrich feathers outfit.

  20. Wow, those pictures are gorgeous! I love walking through fashion exhibits- and sneaking a feel of those sumptuous fabrics.

  21. Amy Jones says:

    Gorgeous dresses, Imagine wearing one of those for prom hehe, id be the queen of the night.

  22. What an exhibit. Each one I thought I liked the best until you introduced the next – even the “costum-y” ones. You just have to appreciate the workmanship and originality whether it’s your “type” of garment or not. I am partial to the tulle & lace. Wonderful seeing a collection that shows his range. Thanks for a little eye candy this evening!

  23. Roz Warren says:

    I was in San Francisco with my son and Daughter-in-law this past Sunday and we almost went to this exhibit! We decided that it was such a lovely day that we’d enjoy some window shopping (and bookstore browsing) instead. It was a wonderful day, but now I’m so sorry that I missed this. Looks glorious. Thanks for all of the wonderful photos. Hope it will still be up when I return in May.

  24. sue says:

    Thank you Carol! I felt like I was at the exhibition. The exhibit is amazing and I love the colours and textures. As someone who is challenged sewing a button or being creative I so admire people with these talents. Thanks for your sharing your experience – Loved it!

  25. Elizabeth O. says:

    Those are all very lovely and you could just see the details and hard work in each dress. he truly was one of the best we had in the fashion industry.

  26. Elegant and gorgeous creations. Oscar De La Renta is truly a masterpiece. Love all of this creations.

  27. Ryan Escat says:

    Oh how beautiful is that! So gorgeous collections. I’m sure this will suit to my wife.

  28. Nicole Escat says:

    What a beautiful and gorgeous collection! I want to fit some! lol Thanks for sharing.

  29. dI’d love to go to something like this. A lot of it is fabulous and then like you said a lot of it I probably wouldn’t wear lol Love the look of the website now 🙂

  30. victoria says:

    These are all beautiful and stunning. celebrities were really looked gorgeous with that

  31. Angie Scheie says:

    There is nothing quite like an Oscar de la Renta gown. Feminine Extravagance in the best way possible. What a great exhibit!

  32. I love Oscar de la Renta. So many good dresses to wear for different occasions.

  33. His style was very versatile. Lots of different dresses with such beautiful details. Love it!

  34. Oscar de la Renta is one of my favorite designers. His work is and continues to be such an inpiration and works of art.

  35. Amazing collection indeed #zainspiredlifestylelinky

  36. Athena says:

    Some of these designs are absolutely awesome while others I have to wonder… But my favorite is the pants with the fur cuffs…

  37. wow, those are fancy and elegant. Great collection! Thanks for sharing.

  38. He is honestly such a talented designer! I love his color and lines!

  39. Diane says:

    Cant imagine anything more exciting than a designer-through-the-years display! Love it!!!

  40. Ohhh I would SO love to see this in person! What amazing construction and imagination. Oscar was a true fashion icon!

  41. tauyanm says:

    i love oscar dela renta. that first B&W dress was once wore by jessica parker/ carrie bradshaw. i fell in love with it.

  42. Most of his designs were really gorgeous. There are some that I could not wear but for most, it is always classy, sleek, sexy, and even ethereal.

  43. Ayesha Heart says:

    These are all fab and glam. Details are al lperfect! I love Oscar’s design <3

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