“With Spain, we think of bullfighters and flamenco dancers, but there is so much more,” Oscar de la Renta said last night at a private viewing of the Queen Sofía Spanish Institute’s Joaquin Sorolla and the Glory of Spanish Dress exhibition. The designer (who conceived the exhibit) and André Leon Talley (who curated it) gathered at the museum on Park Avenue to discuss the
Valencian artist’s influence on Iberian style to a small crowd, which included his wife, Annette de la Renta, Steven Kolb, and Trina Turk.
The exhibition is a feast for the eyes, displaying several Sorolla paintings alongside over 30 original costumes from the period, including lace bridal
gowns from Toledo, boiled wool sheepherder capes, and a pirate’s trove of silver filigree jewelry, all of which were lent from Sorolla’s archives in Madrid. The multi-floor display also includes Catalan-influenced contemporary fashions by Christian Lacroix, Karl Lagerfeld, Stefano Pilati, and Cristobal Balenciaga (the similarities between the latter’s cocoon cape and a Basque fisherman’s tunic are uncanny).
As for de la Renta, if his recent pre-fall collection of embroidered coats and bolero jackets is any indication, he too is feeling his roots. “Spain has always been an influence in my work,” he tells Style.com. “Sometimes things seep in unconsciously.” His favorite Spanish hallmark? “I have always loved ruffles. They are the essence of femininity.”