Oscar de la Renta fur and suede jacket, c. 1981


972915Oscar de la Renta
c. 1981
Transfer from The Museum at The Fashion Institute of Technology

Luxury was a primary theme in 1980s fashion. Exaggerated silhouettes, sumptuous textiles, and lavish embellishment were used to create the feeling of extravagance and wealth. Trimmed with fox fur and decorated with stylized floral embroidery, Oscar de la Renta's (b. 1932) maroon suede jacket perfectly illustrates these 1980s trends. The jacket's lining, of heavy-weight maroon silk, extends the luxurious theme.


In the early 1980s, de la Renta designed a variety of short, loose-fitting jackets with embroidered decorations. Vogue featured several of these jackets in 1981: a cardigan-style jacket of icy blue suede decorated with silver embroidery, a camel suede jacket with bright white passementerie, and a fitted plum velvet jacket with multicolored floral embroidery. Like the twining embroidery seen on this maroon suede jacket, the embellishment seemed drawn from another place, perhaps the art and architecture of the Middle East or India. This interest in non-western themes frequently recurs in de la Renta's work.

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As a designer, de la Renta eschews minimalism, swathing women in luxurious garments with a feminine, romantic feeling. As described by a Vogue article in 1982, “Oscar is romantic. Not only does he look and project romantic, he also delivers romantic clothes for romantic women on both sides of the Atlantic.”1 Evening wear is a particular specialty; in the early 1980s de la Renta's evening sensibility was defined by full skirts, exaggerated sleeves and heavy embellishment, including embroidery, passementerie, and beading. With its puffed shoulders, slightly box fit and opulent trim, this jacket could almost be mistaken for a Victorian-era jacket. Despite differences in silhouette, it shares a mood with this 1870s dolman from our collection.

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1 Dorsey, Hebe. "Fashion: The Romance of Being Oscar: Too Good to Be True?" Vogue (May 1, 1982): 263.


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