OSCAR GETTING HIS DUE: As it turns out, The Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco’s plans to showcase the life and career of Oscar de la Renta in an exhibition next year was an idea that the designer had considered.
With this year marking the 50th anniversary of the company that bears his name, the designer, who died in October, had warmed up to the prospect of a retrospective for that occasion, according to Alex Bolen, chief executive officer. Over the last few years, the designer had spoken with his close friend Diane Wilsey, the museum’s president, about the idea of an exhibition to mark that milestone, Bolen said.
“Oscar as a general matter was not a particularly retrospective person. He was very much somebody who wanted to look ahead and not so much look back.” Bolen said. “But he thought it was a great idea to do something that she was in favor of. It came together sadly a bit after Oscar’s death, but it came together nonetheless, which is the important thing.”
Having recently paid tribute to de la Renta at the SCAD Museum of Art with a more compact selection of his designs, Andre Leon Talley will also curate the San Francisco one. The California one will feature 100 ensembles and will bow next year on Feb. 27 [folo 2016] and will run through May 30. Bolen noted, “There is 50 years of work just here at Oscar de la Renta not to mention his work at Balmain, and at Balenciaga and Lanvin prior to his coming to New York. I’m not the curator but there is a lot of material to work with, so if anything, the difficulty, is in the edit.”
Bolen added, “We have kind of a dream team assembled for this between the museum’s fashion holdings with in particular regards to Oscar. Also, Oscar has many old friends in the area, and of course the involvement of his friend Andre from a curatorial perspective. This really makes for an interesting mix.”
A former chairman of the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute, de la Renta helped curate exhibitions about Balenciaga and Fortuny there. “He came to realize that a retrospective was not a total anathema — that there was something interesting in looking back at a body of work,” Bolen said. “The retrospective in San Francisco is really meant to be a comprehensive, encyclopedic look at Oscar’s career from the beginning to his most recent looks.”
Molly Sorkin and Jennifer Park, who helped the designer with those projects, will be assisting Talley with the research, selections, catalogue and installation of next year’s San Francisco show. Vignettes will be set up to reflect the designer’s upbringing in the Dominican Republic, his salad days in Spain, his early working days in iconic fashion houses and his eponymous role as a self-made designer for scores of 20th century cultural and political influencers.