Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton host Oscar de la Renta exhibit in Little Rock

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. UPI/Kevin Dietsch
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. UPI/Kevin Dietsch | License Photo

Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton hosted the opening of Oscar de la Renta's fashion exhibit at the William J. Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, Arkansas on Monday.

The exhibit "Oscar de la Renta: American Icon" was organized by the former Secretary of State and it featured a retrospective view of the designer's 50-year career.


“I wanted to do this because for me, it’s not just about the clothes, although they are really spectacular,” Hillary Clinton told the crowd. “It’s about what that means -- the continuing effort to really be as good as you can be; whether it is in designing and creating a dress or building a wall or teaching a child, it is about excellence. It is about high standards. It is about what we should hold ourselves to no matter what we do in our lives.”

President Clinton also praised the designer for his charitable work in the Dominican Republic, where de la Renta built an orphanage, and for being a truly dedicated friend who “seems to become more ardent in his friendship when you’re down.”

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“I never got to wear one of his dresses,” the former president joked, “but I have every day for many years worn the mantle of his friendship with genuine pride.”


Chelsea Clinton also took the state to the praise the designer focusing on de la Renta's futuristic vision in his work and thanking him for making fashion "not only beautiful but accesible."

Vogue's editor in chief Anna Wintour, who was also in attendance at the event, deemed de la Renta “fashion’s renaissance man” and said he was a designer who “truly understands the power of clothes.”

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“The reason [his fashions] are so gorgeous is that they are a perfect reflection of the man who made them,” Wintour said.

After praising how appropriate the former first lady looked in her run as secretary of state, Wintour added that she "can only hope that all of you in Little Rock will be celebrating here come November 2016. All of us at Vogue look forward to putting on the cover the first female president of the United States.” De la Renta, who has dressed several first ladies throughout his career, explained that the exhibit focused on his evolution as a designer.

“This was actually Hillary’s idea,” he said. “Originally, I thought it was going to be about dresses I had done for first ladies or dresses I have done for Hillary, and they said, ‘No, no, no, this is going to be a retrospective of your work.’ Unfortunately, only in the last 12 years have we been keeping our archive of clothes because before that I never ever thought that anyone would ever have the slightest interest in my clothes.”


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