Services for Marianna Mason Sheridan, who created an archive of Oscar de la Renta‘s designs, will be held Wednesday at 1 p.m. at Christ Church in Charlotte, N.C. Sheridan, whose work became the core of an exhibit of de la Renta’s major designs, died on Saturday after a long illness, surrounded by her family. She was 50 years old.
Sheridan graduated in 1989 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in English. She took a job in 1992 in the corporate communications department of Duke Power, where she fielded calls from reporters at all hours of the day and night. In 1995, she joined First Union as vice president and became an important member of the corporate and investment banking team, rising to senior vice president before retiring in 2000.
Once her children were older and more independent, Sheridan almost by chance embarked on a new career. Several years ago, after a small exhibition of Oscar de la Renta’s work, culled from the collections of longtime clients, she suggested that the company create a proper corporate archive to preserve the legacy of the designer.
“We signed on under the condition that she herself run it,” said Alex Bolen, chief executive officer of Oscar de la Renta. “Though not classically trained as a curator, Marianna was a great fan and student of fashion.”
In less than a year, Sheridan sourced pieces from vintage dealers, bartered with customers and discovered the occasional item on eBay. Her archive became the cornerstone of last year’s “Oscar de la Renta: His Legendary World of Style,” at San Francisco’s de Young Museum, and “The Glamour and Romance of Oscar de la Renta,” set to bow in October at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston.
“Without Marianna’s hard work, none of this would have been possible,” Bolen said. “We all adored Marianna and are heartbroken at the news of her death. Her tremendous intelligence, wit and grace combined for an inspiring personal style. We send our deepest condolences to Trey and her entire family.”
Vogue contributing editor André Leon Talley said Sheridan wasn’t simply collecting clothes, she was collecting “the idea of de la Renta and the things that made him wonderful. I spent a whole day with her in the archives the last time I saw her. She was already ill, but she was steadfast and very strong and never complained. I will miss her.”
Sheridan loved the archiving work and grew close to the de la Renta family and employees of the fashion house. However, she considered her most important jobs to be wife and mother, and relished going on school trips as a class mom and attending the many games for teams on which her children played.
Her leadership roles included charitable and nonprofit institutions in Charlotte such as the Mint Museum and Mint Museum Auxiliary; Charlotte Assembly; Baby J Fund/Levine Children’s Hospital and Charlotte Country Day School, among others. She was also a longtime volunteer at the Good News Shop at Christ Church.
Sheridan also loved entertaining guests at her home in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic. De la Renta was born in Santo Domingo.
Sheridan is survived by her husband, Robert H. (Trey) 3rd, son Robert H. (Bo) 4th and daughter, Elizabeth Mason; mother, Jacquelyn Marks Mason; father, Leland Patten Mason, and his wife, Edith, and her sister, Miriam Mason Thompson.