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NEW YORK — Grande dames — the kind with a capital G — descended on Park Avenue’s Queen Sofía Spanish Institute on Wednesday, where they didn’t just get to check out the “Balenciaga: Spanish Masters” exhibit, but to Queen Sofía of Spain herself.

This story first appeared in the November 19, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.


The Spanish royal officially opened the show with a cocktail party hosted by Oscar de la Renta. Plenty of well-coiffed Spaniards were joined by Lee Radziwill, Carolina Herrera, Diane von Furstenberg, Deeda Blair, Ralph Rucci, Mario Testino and Jaime de Marichalar, the Queen’s former son-in-law.


“It’s such a beautiful night, with Oscar, Carolina and the Queen,” said Narciso Rodriguez.


“It’s always beautiful when you can see so many Balenciaga dresses in one place,” Bottega Veneta’s Tomas Maier offered.


De la Renta and Hamish Bowles, who curated the show, gave her majesty a personal tour of the Spanish designer’s most iconic pieces with Spanish television crews and photographers trailing the trio. The exhibit will move to the de Young Museum in San Francisco next and end up in Guetaria, the birthplace of Cristóbal Balenciaga. “I keep getting letters from Balenciaga’s nephew saying, ‘how dare you use the theme of bullfighting, Balenciaga hated bullfighting,’” de la Renta said. “But I say, ‘he used it for so much of his inspiration.’

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