Spring/Summer 1984 was a productive and triumphant season
for Santo Domingo-born designer Oscar de la Renta, despite experiencing personal tragedy. The year before, his wife of over three decades passed away from cancer at 62 years old. Françoise de la Renta enjoyed a lengthy career in the fashion industry, in addition to being revered for her interior decorating skills and impeccable style as a hostess.
Forging ahead, de la Renta’s presentation garnered much attention--a feminine collection with expert print mixing. Los Angeles Times fashion critic Marylou Luther hailed it “one of the most brilliant collections of his brilliant career,”  The collection highlighted styles long associated with the designer; at a time when many debuted long skirts, de la Renta, along with veteran designer Geoffrey Beene, preferred to defy trends in favor of offering knee-length frocks. 
“Oscar de la Renta says he loves anything ruffled, and he hates anything long,” Luther reports. Several designers including Adele Simpson, Mollie Parnis, and Halston joined him and Beene in reviving the knee or above length. 
Skimming reviews of Oscar de la Renta’s Spring/Summer 1984 collection, it’s near impossible to encounter press coverage without mention of ruffles. Ruffles have long been known as his forte, and this collection delivers. “Ruffles are to Oscar de la Renta what rum-raisin is to Häagen-Dazs and Hawaiian shirts are to Tom Selleck--a trademark,” notes one fashion critic.  The designer himself took the title in stride, joking “I was so angry when Halston said I never do anything but ruffles. Now he’s doing ruffles, too, and I think they’re among the prettiest clothes he has done.” 
So fond was
de la Renta of this fabric treatment he named his newest perfume Ruffles, offering samples to Spring/Summer 1984 show attendees. 
Shoulders and Hips
Ruffles aside, the collection offered a colorful array of looks with an emphasis on the shoulders and hips.
Several looks follow de la Renta’s propensity for feminine, knee-length garments , seen here on a two-piece dress showcasing the designer’s eye for unusual color combinations. New York Times fashion critic Bernadine Morris exclaimed “Oscar de la Renta’s clothes look positively joyous,”  a sentiment so aptly represented by this model.
Particularly notable is de la Renta’s strength in prints. Checks dance with plaids and florals; “in a season short on prints, his two-piece dresses with printed tops and striped skirts are the best in New York.” 
Bold patterns like plaids appear everywhere on the runway, as seen on this iridescent skirt and matching bow. De la Renta once plainly declared “I hate long”--this look clearly illustrates his preferences. 
“For Spring, de la Renta always does some type of nautical inspired clothes.” This dress offers a subtle nod to the theme, topped with a jaunty straw boater. The abundance of dresses and skirts shown on the runway is an attempt to appeal to his customer base, said to prefer skirts over pants. 
Although pants are not prominent in this collection, they still appear on the runway.
© FIDM Museum & Library, Inc.
Research and text by Yvonne Sone.
Photography by Michel Arnaud.
Images made available for limited non-commercial, educational, and personal use only, or for fair use as defined in the United States copyright laws. Users must cite the author and source of the image as they would material from any printed work, and the citations should include the URL “www.fidmmuseum.org”. For publication or press requests, visit this link or email imagerights@FIDMmuseum.org.
1. Enid Nemy, “Françoise de la Renta, 62, a Leader in Fashion,” New York Times (New York, NY), Jun. 18, 1983.
2. Marylou Luther, “Sexuality the Key to N.Y. Designs for Spring ‘84,” Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, CA), Nov. 18, 1983.
3. Marylin Johnson, “De la Renta Welcomes New Season with Ruffles,” Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, GA), Nov. 11, 1983.
4. Gay Pauley, “Spring/summer Fashions Push Thinny-thin Look,” Baltimore Afro-American (Baltimore, MD), Feb. 11, 1984.
5. Marylou Luther, “Gathering One More Ruffle in the Romantic Realm of de la Renta,” Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, CA), Sept. 23 1983.
7. Marylin Johnson, “De la Renta Welcomes New Season with Ruffles,” Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, GA), Nov. 11, 1983.
8. Marylou Luther, “Sexuality the Key to N.Y. Designs for Spring ‘84,” Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, CA), Nov. 18, 1983.
9. Bernadine Morris, “A Light and Airy Touch From Beene for Springtime,” New York Times (New York, NY), Nov. 10, 1983.
10. Marylou Luther, “Sexuality the Key to N.Y. Designs for Spring ‘84,” Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, CA), Nov. 18, 1983.
11. Marylin Johnson, “Designers Play with Styles in Spring Dresses, Sportswear,” Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, GA) Nov. 20, 1983.
12. Marylin Johnson, “De la Renta Welcomes New Season with Ruffles,” Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, GA), Nov. 11, 1983.