HOUSTON — “The Glamour and Romance of Oscar de la Renta” retrospective at the Museum of Fine Arts here is a splash of color in the city as it continues to rebuild from Hurricane Harvey. The designer’s legacy was celebrated over five days, drawing some of de la Renta’s closest friends and family to Houston before the exhibit opened to the public.
The roots of the exhibit stretch from Houston to San Francisco, where Lynn Wyatt, a life trustee of the MFAH, first saw the retrospective at the de Young museum and knew it would be a perfect fit in her hometown.
Wyatt was a bright light at all of the events honoring her friend and reached into the past to wear a vintage de la Renta brown tweed suit at the Oscar de la Renta Fashion Show and Luncheon on Thursday. She donned a new black-and-white tulle tea-length gown for the Museum of Fine Arts Grand Gala Ball on Friday.
“Oscar was such an old friend of mine, so clever, so nice,” Wyatt said. “My husband’s name is Oscar, and I always say, he’s the other Oscar in my life.”
Wyatt’s black silk faille and silk taffeta evening gown is just one of her pieces presented in the exhibition, which features close to 70 ensembles from the de la Renta archives. Wyatt and the gown were in the October 2011 issue of Harper’s Bazaar, and she was “very, very flattered” to have her dresses as part of the retrospective.
André Leon Talley curated the exhibition, which includes pieces belonging to the MFAH, the archives of Pierre Balmain and items loaned by celebrities and influential Houstonians. Talley’s college buddy and longtime friend Dr. Yvonne Cormier loaned multiple pieces from her closet to the MFAH for the exhibit, including a blush silk faille and silk embroidery dress from resort 2012.
“I saw that dress at Tootsies and I know right then and there, it had my name written all over it,” Cormier said.
She wore custom Oscar de la Renta, with matching clutch and Manolo Blahnik shoes, made at the behest of Talley, who sourced extra fabric specifically for the heels. Cormier has a long history with the de la Renta label and the man behind it, as their friendship even pre-dated her relationship with Talley, whom she met at Brown University.
Other Texas notables with pieces in the exhibit include philanthropist Carolyn Farb, former first lady Laura Bush, Elyse Lanier and Allison Sarofim.
The festivities kicked off Oct. 4 at the MFAH with a cocktail party and museum patron preview of the exhibit, followed by a seated dinner on the museum’s second floor. The style set was out en force once again Thursday at the fashion show and luncheon at the MFAH. The museum, in conjunction with Oscar de la Renta and Tootsies, a Houston luxury shopping institution, presented the resort 2018 collection.
Label designers Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia mixed in the crowd, along with Oscar de la Renta chief executive officer Alex Bolen and his wife Eliza Bolen. After the show, guests filtered backstage for a Tootsies trunk show, buying pieces they had just seen on the runway.
Hallie Vanderhider was so taken with the lush red gown that ended the runway show she wore it to the Grand Gala Ball on Friday evening. The gown, which featured sequined fern embroidery and an illusion neckline, was the first made from the resort collection.
Gowns for the Friday Grand Gala Ball spanned the decades. Ball chair Cherie Flores wore a custom pink and black gown, while Courtney Lanier Sarofim donned a red Oscar gown that was more than a decade old. The gala’s decor was another lush homage to de la Renta’s love of color as well as gardening. The gala raised $2.3 million for the MFAH. Annette de la Renta added to the New York contingent, flying in for the gala.