Oscar de la Renta celebrates 50 years of fabulous fashion

The exhibition features designs from the beginning of de la Renta’s career in the 1960s to the present day, including gowns worn on red carpets and celebrity weddings.
Oscar de la Renta outfits on display in Dallas in a new retrospective on his career at the George W. Bush Library and Museum. AP Photo / LM Otero
Oscar de la Renta outfits on display in Dallas in a new retrospective on his career at the George W. Bush Library and Museum. AP Photo / LM Otero

As the former first lady of the United States of America, Laura Bush, gazed at the elegant knee-length Oscar de la Renta dress and coat she wore to the swearing-in ceremony at her husband’s 2005 inauguration, she recalls that white turned out to be the perfect colour choice.

“The floor of the platform was a beautiful sky blue, which I didn’t know that it would be ... So the white dress with snow all out on the ground and then this beautiful sky-blue platform really looked perfect,” Bush says. Turning her eyes to the silvery gown she wore that night, she says: “He made it so sparkling and so beautiful with the crystals.”

The ensembles are among more than 60 featured in a new retrospective of De la Renta’s career that recently opened at the George W Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas. Oscar de la Renta: Five Decades of Style runs until October 5.

“To me, this is such a great example of what Oscar really tries to do – whether it’s for first ladies or the lady on the street, he really tries to understand what people want, what people need; he tries to get people. And I think that this is really a reflection of his great relationship with Mrs Bush,” says Alex Bolen, the chief executive officer of Oscar de la Renta, as well as the designer’s ­son-in-law.

The exhibition, featuring designs from the beginning of de la Renta’s career in the 1960s to the present day, is arranged by themes, from gowns inspired by de la Renta’s love of gardening to those showing the Spanish influence on his works to gowns worn on red carpets and by first ladies, including Bush, Hillary Clinton and Nancy Reagan.

Bush said the exhibition was the designer’s idea. “He called me and said: ‘May I do a show there? I’d love to.’ Of course I was thrilled, I’d always envisioned that we do a show of clothes,” Bush says.

Her daughter Jenna Bush Hager’s wedding dress is among those displayed, along with Bush’s turquoise mother-of-the bride dress.

“When Jenna married, there was just one designer she wanted to design her dress, and that was Oscar,” Bush says, adding: “Of course she thought it was the prettiest dress ever, and it is.”

Bush said she was able to wear many of the dresses to multiple events, including a blue silk dress she wore not only for a Vogue photo shoot but also on other occasions including a dinner for Nicolas Sarkozy, who was the French president at the time, and for her White House portrait.

“One of the great things about his clothes is that you can wear them over and over,” she says. “They last longer than a year: they stay in fashion longer than a year and then they also obviously are so beautifully made they last for a long time.”

De la Renta’s designs were also featured last year at the William J Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Arkansas – including a teal pantsuit Hillary Clinton wore when she was sworn in as senator.

• Visit www.georgewbushlibrary.smu.edu for more information

* AP

Published: August 2, 2014 04:00 AM

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