Amal and George Clooney on their wedding day, 2014. The bride wore Oscar de la Renta. The gown will be showcased in this fall's blockbuster highlighting the designer at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, opening October 8, on view through January 28, 2018. (Photo Getty)
Oscar de la Renta at the finale of his Spring 1996 fashion show (Photo courtesy Oscar de la Renta, LLC)
Oscar de la Renta with Naty Abascal, 1960s (Photo courtesy Oscar de la Renta, LLC)
Oscar de la Renta and André Leon Talley, 1978. Talley curates the MFAH exhibition, the third in a series of shows he has curated on his late friend, the iconic designer. (Photo "Oscar de la Renta," 2016)
Caftan of hand-painted silk crepe de chine, Summer 1982 (Photo courtesy Oscar de la Renta, LLC)
House sketch of day ensemble, dress and jacket, Oscar de la Renta for Jane Derby, Fall 1966 (Courtesy Oscar de la Renta archive)
Oscar de la Renta coat and dress ensemble, Fall 1968
One of the world’s most fabled wedding gowns will be on view in Houston come fall as the blockbuster “The Glamour and Romance of Oscar de la Renta” arrives at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, unveiling October 8 and running through January 28, 2018.
The now historic dress to be showcased is a couture creation designed by Oscar de la Renta for Amal Clooney (née Alamuddin) when she wed George Clooney September 27, 2014, in Venice. The Clooneys’ opulent multi-day festivities were attended by a who’s who of internationals and Hollywood royals, and will go down as one of the weddings of the new century, comparable to the nuptials of Jackie and JFK, or Grace Kelly and Prince Ranier’s walk down the aisle in Monaco.
Poignantly, the timeless beaded-tulle, silk, and hand-embroidered lace wedding gown for the human-rights attorney and activist Miz Clooney was one of the designer’s final creations before he passed away October 20, 2014.
He also designed her party dress post-nuptials, a frothy Gatsby-style number (which is not included in this exhibition).
There are fashion designers, and then there are couturiers whose career and influence fan across decades and inspire generations. Oscar de la Renta was the latter. In the postwar era, he upheld the platinum standard for what an American designer could aspire to be: impeccable, classic, elegant, and, throughout a career that exceeded half a century, intensely relevant. From Manhattan to Texas, he dressed many a ball chairman and their court, from the Met Costume Institute Gala to the MFAH Grand Gala Ball, as well as a litany of Hollywood royals on Oscar night — for it was Oscar who ruled the hours of the evening. And then there were his beautiful dresses and suits for daytime, which appeared at luncheons of substance and ceremony.
The MFAH’s exhibition is curated by the late designer’s friend — and well-versed fashion insider — André Leon Talley (who will attend opening night and several other functions) and MFAH curator of decorative arts, craft, and design Cindi Strauss. The exhibition brings forth nearly 70 creations, from American sportswear to demure luncheon ensembles and entrance-making ball gowns, garnered from the fashion house and the designer’s personal archives, the archives of Balmain, private lenders, and the fashion troves of the MFAH.
The exhibition offers a grand arch of a half-century of Oscar de la Renta, from the Dominican Republic-born designer’s beginnings in Madrid with couturier Balenciaga to the launch of his label in 1965 and his days at Balmain, where he was the first American designer to head a French couture house (1992 to 2002).
The heirs apparent and multi-talented designers Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia, who also design the Monse collection, took over as lead designers a year ago, although both had worked with Mr. de la Renta for many years prior and have garnered high praise.
The MFAH makes the case for de la Renta as a museum-level master, even mounting the gowns, cocktail dresses, and frocks alongside paintings and decorative arts culled from its permanent collection. This is the third of a series of de la Renta tribute exhibitions curated by Talley — others were at San Francisco’s de Young in 2016 and the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2015 — and marks perhaps our final chance to see this master’s talent through the eyes of one who knew him well. Get more info and tickets here.