Mint Museum exhibition showcases fashion of Oscar de la Renta

Curated by Durham native Andre Leon Talley, former editor-at-large for Vogue magazine, the exhibit pays homage to the late, iconic designer’s inspirations and experiences.

Custom eveningwear, inspired by Oscar de la Renta's studies in Spain. On view at "The Glamour and Romance of Oscar de la Renta at Mint Museum Randolph. (Photo: Jaimie Small)

The Mint Museum continues its Year of Fashion with the opening of a new exhibit, “The Glamour and Romance of Oscar de la Renta.”

Curated by Andre Leon Talley, former editor-at-large for Vogue magazine, the exhibit pays homage to the late, iconic designer’s inspirations and experiences. Talley became close friends with de la Renta and his family soon after Talley moved to New York City from his boyhood home in Durham.

The traveling exhibit has been shown in the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston and in the de Young Museum of Fine Arts in San Francisco. Featuring elegant styles once worn by dignitaries, first ladies and celebrities, the retrospective includes pieces from the archive collection of the de la Renta fashion house, plus a few pieces from personal collections.

Running through July 29 at the Mint Museum Randolph, the 47-piece exhibition showcases pieces from the designer dating back to the 1960s.

“The best part about this exhibit, these collections, is that the clothes are wearable,” Talley said during a recent preview hosted for local journalists. “They are not conceptual pieces. There is something that every one of you would wear in this exhibit.”

The exhibit spans four rooms, each signifying a different part of de la Renta’s life and inspiration.

The first room, set to resemble the gardens at the designer’s home, features a mix of romantic, floral gowns along with vintage furniture. From there, visitors move into a vibrant, gold room that showcases the influence of Spain, where de la Renta’s career began under designer Cristobal Balenciaga. Pieces include embellished, fitted dresses, headpieces and accessories. For the Beyoncé fans, this gallery also includes a red, ruffled dress the signer wore on the cover of Vogue.

The third gallery, the most formal of the four, features a group of blush-colored gowns set against blue-glittered painted walls and features a gown worn by Taylor Swift at the Met Gala. The selected gowns are in-house designs as well as pieces from French fashion house Balmain, where de la Renta served as creative director.

Blush and rose-colored gowns featured in gallery 3 of “The Glamour and Romance of Oscar de la Renta,” including Taylor Swift’s 2014 Met Gala ensemble. (Photo: Jaimie Small)

Although he grew up in Durham, Talley said he had never come to Charlotte until he curated the de la Renta exhibit at the Mint. Now he is planning a second trip this summer to showcase his new documentary, “The Gospel According to Andre,” which recently debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival.

The film documents Talley’s early years in the segregated South to his rise to become one of the fashion industry’s most respected journalists – no small feat for an African American man. The de la Renta exhibition kicked off as the Mint hosted its annual fundraiser, Coveted Couture, celebrating the late designer and other fashion industry VIPs, including Alex Bolen, CEO of Oscar de la Renta; Chrissy Rutherford, senior fashion editor for Harper’s Bazaar; and actress January Jones.

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