Hi readers! Today, we go to the Musem of Fine Arts in Houston for a bit of visual candy and inspiration – an exhibit of evening wear by the late Oscar de la Renta. My friend Mary (visiting from Grand Rapids, Michigan) and I spent a fantastic morning viewing Oscar’s dresses. Posted here are photos of just a few items; there are many more dresses than I put up here. In advance, please forgive the quality of the pictures; it’s my shaky fingers, not the iPhone camera that’s at fault. So, enjoy and see if you’re inspired to incorporate Oscar-like ideas into your own sewn wardrobe.
I Want to Wear This Right Now
First up, I’m inspired by this circa 1968 outfit donated to the designer’s archives by Houstonian socialite (and Sakowitz heiress) Lynn Wyatt. In the audio guide on this outfit, she says that if she hadn’t donated it to the archives, she would be wearing it today – in 2017. Lynn, I agree with you and want to wear this right now. You will be happy to know Lynn, I’m planning to knock off your Oscar de la Renta.
Loved by Important People
Oscar has been quite a favorite of First Ladies of the United States. One of Mrs. Laura Bush’s gowns is on exhibit. I will have to go back to the exhibit to view this exquisite gold lace piece again. But here’s a photo of Mrs Bush wearing it. Hillary Clinton’s inaugural gown as First Lady the second time around (1997) was designed by our man Oscar, and as of now the dress is archived at the Smithsonian along with other First Lady inaugural gowns, and not on display at the exhibit.
We all know that Hollywood was also besotted with Oscar. Here’s a Hollywood wife, Amal Clooney (who has her own non-Hollywood career) being fitted into her wedding dress, photographed by Annie Liebovitz.
Plus, there’s the “fluffy” red dress worn by Beyonce for the pages of Vogue magazine. Those ruffles are edged with the narrowest machine hem I’ve ever seen! So much narrow-hemming….
There’s this gorgeous creamy white silk faille gown with embroidery all over. I think this is easily done by us home sewers! The motif consists of sheer organza ribbon and silk floss.
Puzzling Over Details
I’ve been obsessed with the construction of the piping detail in the dress below. Tell me, readers, can you figure out how the black piping ends so cleanly in the middle of the seam and beginning of a pleat?
More puzzlement. My friend Mary and I are still puzzling over how all the flower motifs were attached to the white dress.
I’ve already given a name to this one – Belle’s outfit. Have you seen Beauty and the Beast? This reminds me of the costumes worn by actress Emma Watson. Mr. de la Renta’s inspiration for this piece was Marie Antoinette’s Versaille. By the way, I love how the toile-motif skirt is displayed with a white shirt and tennis shoes – and watering cans! Gardening couture….
Surely not Oscar!?!
Below is a piece which one would least expect from Oscar de la Renta. That patched up caftan is indeed by the designer who veered another way. I will be going back to find out more about this piece.
I will be visiting this exhibit again, and will bring you better close ups. Photography was totally allowed as long as there was no flash. Also, there’s a beautiful book/catalog published with this exhibit; I passed on it, but the book must have a lot of inspiring background information about the items exhibited.
Until next time, go forth and sew.