“What I try to do in my designs is make a woman dream.” -Oscar de la Renta
Charlotte has always had a deep affinity for Oscar de la Renta. Not only do his designs resonate with the Southern lifestyle filled with special occasions, but they are also appealing with their exquisite craftsmanship and detailing, palette of delightful colors, and lovely patterns ranging from florals to exotic motifs.
In 2011, The Mint Museum Auxiliary hosted the designer for a fashion show of his latest collection and an exhibition of his dresses worn by Charlotte ladies and collectors. Mr. de la Renta enchanted everyone with his wit, elegance, and charm. On that visit to The Mint Museum, Mr. de la Renta befriended Charlotte resident Marianna Sheridan who suggested he create an archive of his work. She became the first archivist for the company. She died in June 2017 at age 50 following a long illness, but the work she began continues. Thanks to the archive she created and her relationship with the family, Charlotte was selected to be the final stop for the current exhibition The Glamour and Elegance of Oscar de la Renta following blockbuster shows in Houston and San Francisco. The exhibition is curated by André Leon Talley, former editor-at-large for American Vogue magazine, current contributing editor, and lifelong friend of the designer, with assistance by fashion historians Molly Sorkin and Jennifer Park
Andre Leon Talley said, “Charlotte’s showcase represents the finest work of Oscar. It focuses on his design and inspirations and his extreme love for women, because behind every piece the foundation of Oscar’s work is always simplicity of design and absolute, unapologetic luxury of fabric texture and color. It is like a jewel box in the Petite Trianon in Versailles,” he said of the Mint exhibition. “It’s just very distilled and it’s very personal and it’s very contained, within all the dynamics of Oscar’s inspirations, his moods, his textures, his muses, the things he read, the music he loved, the life he lived. … I think we did it here better than anyplace.”
VIA THE MINT MUSEUM
Presented in collaboration with Oscar de la Renta, LLC and the designer’s family, the exhibition features approximately 50 ensembles sourced from de la Renta’s personal archives, the archives of French label Pierre Balmain, private lenders, and the Mint’s collection. This exhibition follows previous Talley-curated exhibitions in San Francisco and Houston, but is customized for Charlotte.
From the start of his award-winning career, which spanned more than five decades and two continents, Oscar de la Renta set out to design beautiful clothes for every occasion in a woman’s life. The Glamour and Romance of Oscar de la Renta highlights recurring themes throughout his career, including the influence of the garden on his designs; Spanish influences; and Eastern European influences. The creations on view offer a window into de la Renta’s world through a range of looks, from elegant daywear to resplendent evening gowns worn by fashion icons, dignitaries, and celebrities, including Beyoncé, Laura Bush, Taylor Swift, Mica Ertegun, Karlie Kloss, Lynn Wyatt and his beloved wife Annette de la Renta.
THE INFLUENCE OF SPAIN AND AND EASTERN EUROPE
The first gallery is adorned with with two paintings that serve as backdrops for the exotic fashions. El Jaleo by John Singer Sargent and A Boyar Wedding Feast by Konstantine Makovsky. Mr. de la Renta began his career in Spain and elements of flamenco dancing and bullfights are reflected in the clothes.
This gallery contains someof the show highlights including a red ruffled gown Beyonce wore on the cover of Vogue magazine in March 2013, and a two-piece ensemble Talley proclaimed one of his favorites – a geranium-red voluminous tiered skirt paired with a sapphire blue blouse worn by Mica Ertegun, wife of Atlantic Records co-founder Ahmet Ertegun, for their 40th wedding anniversary.
A black and gold evening dress once worn by supermodel Karlie Kloss evokes imperial Russian robes.
THE GARDEN ROOM
Oscar de la Renta was a passionate gardener and garden themes are prolific in his work. A video of his Connecticut garden provides a serene backdrop for the stunning gowns embroidered and decorated with metallic threads, ribbons, beadwork, and three dimensional flowers.
THE EVENING ROOM
The Evening room displays a fantastical collection of gowns in various shades of pink ranging from the palest of pinks to hot Schiarapelli pink. Each dress is a work of art with its use of materials, element of surprise, and perfect dressmaker details.
One wall of the gallery features a gown with a layered skirt of yards of silk tulle.
Another corner showcases a gown worn by Taylor Swift to the Costume Institute Gala. The range of brilliant designs highlights Mr. de la Renta’s genius.
Oscar de la Renta with archivist and friend Marianna Sheridan.