During the opening day thousands climbed the grand staircase and opened the glass doors to the copper-walled reception area of SCAD FASH, the first and only southern fashion and film museum. With an interior design infusing modern and antique elements and furnishings, the vestibule space had an intimate and soothing atmosphere.
Excited conversation buzzed throughout, turning to awe as the first piece of the ‘Oscar de la Renta’ exhibition — the pink beaded gown Taylor Swift wore at the 2014 Met Gala — came into sight.
A heavenly glow of pink and gold then floated around the room, coming from multimedia projections on the walls created by SCAD alumna Whitney Stansell (M.F.A., painting, 2008) and her husband, Micah Stansell. Images of hydrangeas danced along the walls, paying homage to de la Renta’s source of inspiration while infusing the space with a sense of motion and energy.
But the atmosphere extends beyond motion and lighting; the walls curve in a winding path to carry each visitor from one display to the next around the bend. In the golden-lit hall, mirrors line the left, and on the right are five shimmering, ethereal garments. These include Anna Wintour’s gold lamé evening dress, Huma Abedin’s wedding gown and former first lady Laura Bush’s silk chiffon jacket and skirt. The arrangement gives the illusion of an endless universe full of de la Renta’s designs.
At the end of the hall, many visitors turned into the Film Salon to watch a showing of the SCAD alumni directed and produced film ‘Ovation for Oscar’ and look for keepsakes to purchase and commemorate their first journey to the museum. Instead of key chains or exhibition posters, limited edition prints handcrafted by SCAD alumna Lucha Roderiguez (M.F.A., printmaking, 2011), and inspired by Oscar de la Renta’s designs are available for purchase.
Entering back into the gallery space, a full, flowery red dress catches the eye atop a small platform. The gown gathered many onlookers, many taking photos or selfies. It’s not hard to understand why; it was worn by fashion and music icon Beyoncé in Vogue’s March 2013 issue.
In the final room of the exhibit, visitors circle around a platform displaying Oscar de la Renta’s most notable flamenco styles. This takes guests by Oprah Winfrey’s silk embroidered evening dress worn at the 2010 Met Gala and a gorgeous tulle gown created for SCAD by de la Renta himself to display in the ‘Little Black Dress’ exhibit. Each guest enjoyed a moment with the wedding dresses of the designer’s stepdaughter Eliza Reed Bolen and his dear friend Miranda Brooks, and also the extraordinarily dramatic gown worn by Kristen Dunst in the film ‘Marie Antoinette.’
At the end of the exhibit, many went back for a second walkthrough, sat in the fabric-lined seats carved into the walls of the reception area, or stepped out onto the balcony and took in the wonderful city view. Upon exiting the exhibition space, one of the first fall 2015 cocktail dresses by Peter Copping, the creative director handpicked by Oscar de la Renta to succeed him, wishes all a glamorous farewell and invites visitors to return.
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