Subscribe Now

Search
March 15, 2016

Spotlight: Oscar de la Renta


Photo Credit: Drew Altizer

Editors' Notes

Oscar de la Renta at his annual Lake Tahoe fashion show and benefit.

Photo Courtesy of Prestel

Editors' Notes

A spring 2013 fitting with Oscar de la Renta.

Photo Courtesy of Prestel

Editors' Notes

A house photograph of an Elizabeth Arden by Oscar de la Renta plaid wool day coat from the fall 1963 collection.

Photo Courtesy of Prestel

Editors' Notes

A house photograph of an Elizabeth Arden by Oscar de la Renta evening dress made of pink and gold silk damask from the fall 1963 collection.

Photo Credit: Michael Loccisano

Editors' Notes

Oscar de la Renta and André Leon Talley.

Photo Courtesy of Prestel

Editors' Notes

Oscar de la Renta with models during the finale of his spring 1996 show.

Photo Courtesy of Prestel

Editors' Notes

The Craig McDean cover photo of Oscar de la Renta with models wearing looks from the fall 2012 collection.

“One always tried to live up to Oscar’s standards,” says André Leon Talley in the introduction to Oscar de la Renta (DelMonico Books), the new volume by Jennifer Park and Molly Sorkin accompanying the retrospective on view at the de Young museum in San Francisco through May 30. “He had the most impeccable manners, like a person from another era who carried such admirable qualities as courtesy, respect, and kind gestures toward others,” continues Talley, Vogue contributing editor, and longtime de la Renta friend. “He presented his best foot forward always, as part of a code of living. Even in swimming trunks or jeans, Oscar looked handsome, elegant, turned out, fit, and possessed of inner strength from a light unknown.”

Though de la Renta who was born in the Dominican Republic, worked in New York and split his time between houses in Connecticut, Casa de Camp, and Punta Cana, it’s no surprise that the show, curated by Talley, opened in San Francisco. Generations of de la Renta loyalists including Dede Wilsey, president of the board of trustees of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer are residents here. The book includes an extensive body of work by the Dominican designer who began his fashion career in Spain training with Cristobal Balenciaga and continued to hone his skills in Paris with Antonio del Castillo, couturier at Lanvin. Seeking a stint in ready-to-wear at Elizabeth Arden brought de la Renta to New York, and he soon moved to American fashion house Jane Derby and took over the label in 1965. In addition to expanding his namesake brand during the ensuing years, de la Renta designed haute couture for Balmain throughout much of the 1990s and images from these intricate collections also appear throughout the volume. He dressed first ladies, actresses, and socials, and, in the Bay Area, he assumed the mantle of lead designer for the annual Lake Tahoe benefit fashion show that formerly featured looks by Bill Blass. The show, long a staple of the region’s summer social scene, became known for its picturesque parade of de la Renta gowns set steps from the sparkling lake, with de la Renta often arriving via Chris-Craft boat. The shows inspired audience members to wear de la Renta ballgowns for the opening night galas held to kick off of the city’s opera and symphony seasons, and the new tome and museum show will likely reignite that tradition.

by Elizabeth Varnell

Pictured: Oscar de la Renta at his annual Lake Tahoe fashion show and benefit.
Photo by Drew Altizer

Email This To A Friend
Photo Credit: Drew Altizer
Share With Your Friend

Please wait...

Thanks for sharing!
A link to this gallery has been sent

There was a problem. Please try again.

Please complete all the fields in the form before sending.