Oscar 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.
Before 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.
As 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.
I 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:
The photograph doesn’t show the beautiful gold color of the bodice. This design was so graceful.
To 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:
The entire combination is exquisite.
And yet, he could do designs like these:
I 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.
These fur pants cuffs were fiendishly fun.
This was so elegant.
On a different gown, this crinkled pink silk taffeta was wonderful.
Not 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.