oscar-hillary-clinton oscar-garden oscar-international oscar-nikki-minaj oscar-ruffles oscar-russia oscar-shoes oscar-spanish oscar-bolaro-jacketsm

Oscar de la Renta’s beautiful and feminine designs come alive in the world premiere of his retrospective at San Francisco’s De Young Museum now through May 30.

Masterfully curated by Andre Leon Tally, de la Renta’s lifelong friend and former American editor-at-large for Vogue, the exhibit covers five decades with 120 ensembles. It’s magical.

The exquisite designs are enhanced with imaginative backdrops. Particularly memorable is the reproduction of John Singer Sargent’s magnificent El Jaleo, a perfect backdrop to pieces inspired by Spain. Those inspired by the garden are flanked by a sumptuous multimedia film that puts you right there.

The effect is quite moving. Inspiration abounds and walking the exhibit we learn the source of de la Renta’s own inspiration.

Tango Divas will be thrilled to learn the roll travel played as muse.

“I have always been attracted to the exotic, not question about it… I would always look at folklore and how people dress in different cultures…that is what fascinates me,” he said.

Born in the Dominican Republic, then apprenticing to Cristobal Balencigia in Spain and later working for many of the world’s most iconic fashion houses, Oscar de la Renta was endlessly influenced by foreign cultures. We see how he channeled Asia and the Middle East with brightly colored kimonos and caftans, Russia with lush embroidery, jewels and furs, the great gardens of France with flowers and of course Spain with his iconic ruffles and bolero jacket.

Also featured are the gowns worn by some of the most influential and celebrated women of our time. Two examples are an elegant animal print taffeta gown worn by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and a stunning green silk and Battenberg Lace gown worn by Niki Minaj – in addition to many red carpet stunners Academy Award watchers will recognize.

Organized in close collaboration with the House of Oscar de la Renta and the designer’s family and curated by Andre Leon Tally, Oscar de la Renta: The Retrospective is a can’t miss for both fashionistas and art lovers alike.

The allure of fashion as art has never been stronger.

Kara Hugglestone is a San Francisco-based branding professional, accessory designer, sailor and traveler. When time permits, she also indulges in her passion for things classic: cars, movies, wine and fashion. You can follow her on Twitter at @gallerykara.