Fashion Exhibition: Oscar de la Renta: The Retrospective to Open at San Francisco’s Fine Arts Museum

All Images courtesy of The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (Golden Gate Park, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, San Francisco) will present the world premiere retrospective of the late Oscar de la Renta’s work (March 12, 2016 – May 30, 2016, Herbst Exhibition Galleries) – 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.MS_24

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.


Oscar de la Renta with Andre Leon Talley

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.

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.


Sarah Jessica Parker


Superstar Opera Singer Renee Fleming

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

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.”

Oscar de la Renta with models at  the famed showdown at the Palace of Versailles in 1973

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).

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.


This exhibition is organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco with the collaboration of Oscar de la Renta LLC. Presenting Sponsors are 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.ODLR_Garden

Published on the occasion of this major retrospective exhibition, Oscar de la Renta (Hardcover and softcover, 280 pages.) 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 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.GettyImages-104192720_master

Related Lectures & Events

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Guest Lecture: Oscar de la Renta, by Jennifer Park and Molly Sorkin

1:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Koret Auditorium

Jennifer Park and Molly Sorkin are authors of Oscar de la Renta.

Ticket Information: $3 members | $4 non-members. No reservations. Seating is limited; first come, first served.

Thursday, March 10, 2016, Friday, March 11, 2016

Oscar de la Renta: The Retrospective Member Preview Hours

1:00 pm – 5:15 pm

Be among the first to experience the world premiere of Oscar de la Renta: The Retrospective at the two-day member preview Thursday, March 10, and Friday, March 11, 1–5:15 pm.

Become a Sustaining, Supporting, or Contributing member by February 23 and you will be invited to the Opening Reception on March 11, with complimentary cocktails and hors d’oeuvres and a private viewing of the exhibition. Benefits of membership include priority ticketing, free admission with a guest, and many other exclusive opportunities. Not a member yet? Join today.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Oscar de la Renta: Opening-Day Conversation

1:00 pm – 2:30 pm

Koret Auditorium

Gladys Palmer, Executive Vice-President of Artistic Development, Academy of Art
Peter Copping, Creative Director, Oscar de la Renta
Veronique Hyland, Senior Fashion News Editor for New York magazine/The Cut
André Leon Talley, former editor-at-large, Vogue, and exhibition curator

Ticket Information: $20 members/students; $25 general. Tickets do not include exhibition admission.JP_07

Tickets for Oscar de la Renta: The Retrospective 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

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (Open 9:30 a.m.– 5:15 p.m. Tuesdays–Sundays. Open select holidays; closed most Mondays), comprising of 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.

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