We started our 2018 trip to Texas in Houston because of Oscar de la Renta. Ruth wanted to see “The Glamour and Romance of Oscar de la Renta” at the Museum of Fine Arts. It has been so popular that it was extended until March 18, 2018. Popular among women, that is. I saw this show with literally hundreds of females all oohing and aahing about his designs. After it closes, this show will travel to Charlotte, North Carolina’s Mint Museum and open some time this spring. It will not be the same show we saw in Houston, which has been, well, tailor-made for a Texas audience. I hope I don’t have to go to Charlotte any time soon.
The hit of this show was clearly Amal Clooney’s wedding dress, one of the last designs de la Renta created before he died in 2014. Oscar de la Renta’s career lasted for more than 5 decades. Although he was born in the Dominican Republic, he trained in Madrid, Spain, with Cristóbal Balenciaga and moved to New York to work for Elizabeth Arden. His solo career began in the late 1960s. During it he became the first American to lead a French couture house. This show was curated by Leon Talley, A Vogue Magazine editor and friend of Oscar’s.
Always remaining true to his roots, de la Renta was consistently inspire by Spanish customs and people. In his designs, he reflected their art, bullfights, flamemco, etc. The black evening dress of silk velvet, beads, and sequins at the top is typical of the elegant designs that women like Ruth love. “I have always been attracted to the exotic,” he needlessly said. “I would always look at folklore and how people were dressed in different cultures…that’s what fascinates me.” The cultures he featured also included The Middle East, Russia, Turkey, etc. In fact, he won prestigious Coty Awards 2 years in a row early in his career. The first was for a show called “The Road of Spices”.
Oscar was a lifelong gardener who called this passion “the most spiritual and pure of joys”. He also designed a wedding dress for his stepdaughter, Eliza Bolen, who was married in his Connecticut garden. He had another garden at his home in the Dominican Republic.
Like the London-based character Daniel Day Lewis plays in Phanton Thread, Reynolds Woodcock, Oscar de la Renta had an on-site workroom when he worked in New York and was dressing women like Taylor Swift and Laura Bush. De la Renta figured that skilled craftspeople, fabrics, and trims helped his creative process that began with drawing a collection that took 3 months of work to create.
About the time I read this, I was on fabric overload but Ruth wanted more time with Oscar, so I went off on my own to see a bit of this museum’s permanent collection. While wandering, I found artist Robert Henri’s picador and learned that Henri made several trips to Spain where he became a bullfight fan. Within a week I’d learn about picadors in La Gloria, Texas.