Floral Gowns by Oscar de la Renta

Flowers, flowers, flowers!! Anyone who knows me knows I love flowers! I absolutely love them. So when I read about an exhibition in San Francisco of Oscar de la Renta’s floral couture gowns, I had to go! All I saw in this little article about the exhibit was the word “floral”, and it got me hooked.  As it turns out, this exhibition is not just floral gowns but a representative collection of all of Oscar de la Renta’s couture collections over 6 decades!


If you love vibrant colors, lovely flowers, all cultures of the world, rich gowns, and beautiful clothes; you will really enjoy this exhibition.


We headed to San Francisco on a Sunday morning to see the Oscar de la Renta exhibition at the De Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. With cloudy skies and crisp cool spring weather, it was the perfect day to get out of the house and do something fun.  Plan to arrive at least 30 minutes earlier than your call time, as traffic at this park is heavy.  Parking is not just for the De Young Museum, but the Flower Conservatory, Japanese Tea Garden, the Botanical Gardens, and the California Academy of Sciences. There are lots of people visiting this area.

Folks, what an amazing exhibition this is!  Such beauty in garments to adore the female form, it was mind-blowing.  The clothes displayed are awe-inspiring.  The details on the gowns are out of this world.  The embroidery, the beading, the folds, lace, stitching, every little detail sewn to perfection.  To even conceive of such elegant designs is in itself impressive. The best accolade I could bestow on Oscar de la Renta’s clothes is that they all looked beautiful and timeless.


It takes a visionary to be able to morph their designs and change with the times, cater to the fashion whims of celebrities and dignitaries, and still make those gowns and ensembles relevant and current decades later.  And that’s exactly what Oscar de la Renta managed to do!  Despite that some of the garments displayed were over 50 years old, they looked like outfits you could still wear today.  That takes talent.

I loved this quote from Oscar de la Renta, “I believe that my sole purpose as a designer is to create something that I think a woman would want to wear.”  This is how you know he is a designer that knows and understands the female form.

A lot of thought and preparation went into this exhibition.  The exhibition is beautifully presented. It’s not just a collection of gowns and garments that are just thrown out there on display for viewers.

This is an exhibition that took a lot of creativity, and it’s presented gracefully, and executed to perfection.  This exhibition is an experience. The curator of this exhibition creates a feeling of another world when you walk through the rooms to see all the gowns that Oscar de la Renta designed.  You feel like you are in a movie walking through the beautifully designed galleries; no detail is overlooked, and it all fits together perfectly.  Over one hundred gowns and garments are on display at this exhibition, and it is all exquisite.


All the clothes and gowns are elegantly displayed against gorgeous backdrops, and these backdrops are in themselves works of art.  Against backdrops of rich colors and soft curtains of murals that gently illuminate the garments, the gallery rooms are dreamy in nature. I especially liked the backdrop for the garden inspired gowns and the Russian and Orient inspired garments.  But my favorite backdrop is the one in the gallery for the Spanish inspired garments, this was just awesome.

Spanish Gallery
Russian Gallery

The outfits are categorized into 6 galleries that showcase various phases of Oscar de la Renta’s design direction.  The fist exhibition hall starts with the “Beginnings.” In this gallery the museum showcases outfits that are more functional by design or what they labeled as day and casual evening wear. In fact, I would wear any of these outfits today.  My favorite outfits being the elegant vibrant pink dress, the striped dress, and a lovely rust colored leather coat adorned with beading.

The Spanish Gallery:

The next phase of Oscar de la Renta’s design direction was an era with Spanish influences, along with the vibrant gypsy culture of this region.  As the audio narration mentioned, this is also when Oscar de la Renta apprenticed under the famous Spanish designer Balanciaga.  I loved this collection of garments.  Even the backdrop for all these garments was so gorgeous.

“What I saw in Spain colored the way I have looked at clothes ever since.” Oscar de la Renta.  The outfits were just amazing in this Spanish collection!!  As it turns out the story goes that Oscar de la Renta was on a train ride in Europe and came upon a group of gypsies who invited him to spend some time at their village.  Oscar was enamored by the vibrancy of their garments and the passion that all their outfits evoked and started incorporating Spanish, flamenco, and gypsy style designs into his garments.  I loved the beautiful figure flattering dresses and gowns with lace and flounces in this collection. I would wear any of them today.




Eastern Influence:

“I have always been attracted by the exotic, no question about it… I would always look at folklore and how people were dressed in different cultures… that’s what fascinates me.”  Oscar de la Renta.  The next gallery showcased Oscar de la Renta’s collection influenced by the Eastern cultures, specifically North Africa, China and India.  There were garments such as kaftans, robes, harem style pants, and fur-lined coats.

The Russian Gallery:

“Magical stories about Russia…fed my imagination and made me dream.” Oscar de la Renta. In this gallery titled Russian Influence, the museum showcases Oscar de la Renta’s Russian style designs.  As it turns out, he got heavily influenced by the success of the movie Dr. Zhivago and took to creating wedding gowns and ensembles that had Russian design elements.  Specifically Oscar de la Renta looked to the era of the Russian revolution for inspiration.


The Garden Gallery:

“A garden is the most spiritual and pure of joys… It’s a communion with nature and beauty in the most simple and fundamental form.” Oscar de la Renta.

Oscar de la Renta was an avid gardener and had beautiful homes in Connecticut and in the Dominican Republic with world renowned gorgeous gardens.  According to the book Oscar de la Renta, published by the de Young Museum of San Francisco, Brook Hill Farm in Connecticut is where Oscar lived when he was not spending time in the Dominican Republic. This garden in Connecticut is where Oscar’s true happiness and wonder of nature can be seen.  The gardens that Oscar de la Renta was most proud of and passionate about had a grand English estate style and a style similar to the gardens of Pavlovsk Palace in St Petersburg, Russia.  All of which had a style of elegance. They were noble yet simple odes to nature. Oscar spent nearly four decades creating his gardens starting with advice from an English landscape architect Sir Russel Page. Many inspirations for his clothing designs came from his garden.

In the Garden Inspiration gallery Oscar de la Renta’s garments are softer in nature and more Victorian in design.



The Ballroom Gallery:

You meander through 2 more rooms of beautifully displayed gowns before you reach the grand finale – The Ballroom. The backdrop for the grand finale of the exhibition was just ethereal.

The Ballroom.  The final gallery labelled the Ballroom is a gallery of gowns worn by celebrities, digniteries, and royalty. This was a “wow” gallery which will transport you to ball rooms, celebrity award shows, and royal gatherings.  This room showcases Oscar de la Renta’s collection of gowns from the 20th and 21st century.





Also included in this last room were gowns worn by famous celeberiteis that we are familiar with today – names such as Sara Jessica Parker, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Jessica Chastain, Penelope Cruz, and Amy Adams.

What I liked about this show is that they limit the number of people who are in the exhibition at any given time.  This is a great way for the museum to make sure that not too many people are in the galleries all at one time.  This makes the entire experience more relaxing and enjoyable for all of us. You don’t have to worry about elbowing your way to the front to see the gowns. As you can see from the pictures below, the isles are clear and not crowded.


This is a fun way to spend an afternoon with your girlfriends or go as a family.  Check out the exhibition and grab some lunch or tea at the cafe in the museum.  It is a perfect way to spend time together. Hitesh came along with us, and even he couldn’t help but appreciate the beauty in these gowns.  He was impressed. Even the guys will enjoy it.


After the show we grabbed lunch at the de Young Cafe.  The food here is good. We had a potato leek quiche and vegetarian paella, and both were delicious.

I took so many pictures that I would love to post them all here.  I have chosen to tease you with a small selection of photos that I took at this memorable exhibition.  I hope you make the time to go and see Oscar de la Renta. A Retrospective, you will not be disappointed.

This exhibition is going on at the De Young Museum at the Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, California from March 12th – May, 30th.  After this date the show is hitting the road.  Take a look at your local museum calendar for the dates for when this will be arriving in your city.  Here is the link for more information on this wonderful exhibition. Oscar de la Renta: The Retrospective


Additional Information about the Oscal de la Renta Exhibition
from the De Young Museum’s Web Site:

Oscar de la Renta: The Retrospective
March 12, 2016 – May 30, 2016


This world premiere retrospective of Oscar de la Renta’s work celebrates the life and career of one of fashion’s most influential designers. The exhibition will include more than 130 pieces produced over five decades, and is presented in collaboration with the house of de la Renta and the designer’s family. These garments are organized into several thematic sections: early work; Spanish, Eastern, Russian and garden influences; daywear and eveningwear; and ball gowns and red carpet ensembles. The presentation traces the rise of de la Renta’s career in Spain, where he gained his first commissions; his formative years spent in the world’s most iconic fashion houses; and his eventual role as a designer for many of the most influential and celebrated personalities of the 20th and 21st centuries.

The presentation traces the rise of Oscar de la Renta’s career in Spain, where he gained his first commissions; his formative years spent in the world’s most iconic fashion houses; and his eventual role as a designer for many of the most influential and celebrated personalities of the 20th and 21st centuries.

André Leon Talley, former American editor-at-large for Vogue magazine, will curate the exhibition. His depth of knowledge and lifelong friendship with de la Renta will provide an unmatched perspective on the designer’s career.

For this presentation, de la Renta’s company will open its archives to illuminate both the breadth and depth of the designer’s work. Additional pieces will be drawn from the designer’s personal collection, private lenders from around the world, and the Fine Arts Museums’ costume collection.



Oscar de la Renta: The Retrospective

9 thoughts on “Floral Gowns by Oscar de la Renta”

  1. Beautiful pictures Kalpana and wonderful descriptions. Some of the dresses look like our
    Indian sarees. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Hi Kalpana
    Wow what a beautiful description of the gown and the designer.I love floral gowns.! I will tell my sister about his house in Connecticut.
    Thanks for sharing this.

  3. Kalpana-sheth@yahoo.com
    Thanks for the detailed description of the exhibit of Oscar de la Renta at De Young Museum in SF.
    Kalpana, you are indeed doing a wonderful job of posting all the beautiful photos as well as writing
    in depth on all your blogs. I read all of them not just once but enjoy reading them several times. I truly appreciate you sending them and apologize for the late response. We are at Suresh’s house in
    Castro Valley right now.
    Love, Devi

  4. Kalpana-Sheth@yahoo.com
    Hi Kalpana,
    Thanks for the detailed description of the exhibit of Oscar de la Ranta at De Young Museum in SF.
    You are indeed doing a great job of posting all the photos as well as writing in detail about all your blogs posted so far. I read all your blogs not just once but several times. I truly enjoy reading them
    and sorry for the late response.
    Love, Devi

  5. Sounds like a great time! Love your descriptive review of the exhibit and, of course, all the beautiful photos you took! As always, I enjoy reading your posts as I inevitably always come away more informed and/or entertained. Thank you for sharing your talents! Xxoo

    1. Thank you Rose for your positive and encouraging comments. You make me want to continue to write and share stories. I love you for it. Thank you for all your support and encouragement!

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