From 2015 to 2018, I worked with the fashion house Oscar de la Renta. For the entirety of the three years I was an Archive intern, but I also spent a summer at the HQ working in the Global Communications and Public Relations Department. During those three years, I learned about the remarkable history of Oscar de la Renta, awaited anxiously every season to see what beautiful couture garments the fashion house was going to release, and experienced more than I would had ever hoped.
First and foremost, I want to say that, I have put sharing my experiences at Oscar de la Renta on the back burner for a year now. I was struggling to find the words because the person who gave me this incredible experience isn’t here to share this story with me. In 2017, Archivist to Oscar de la Renta, mother, wife, and incredible friend to many, Marianna Sheridan, passed away from breast cancer. Not only was Marianna my first boss but she and I became close friends through traveling and working together. She completely transformed the idea of who I aspired to be one day. I had never met someone as extraordinary as her. Marianna oozed grace, class, intelligence, wit, and charm. Whenever she walked into a room, everyone knew she was present, was extremely attentive to her, and loved and adored her spirit.
None of this would have been possible without her. Marianna took a chance on this sixteen-year-old girl. What was supposed to simply be a talk with her over coffee so that she could tell me about her work as the Archivist at Oscar de la Renta, ended in her asking me if I would be her intern. If you knew my dreamer-like heart at sixteen years old, not even I could have come up with such a dream. Those three years made my life so special. I will forever cherish those moments I was lucky to share with Marianna. Growing up and learning from the fashion house but, especially, Marianna, helped to shape who I am today. Today, it’s still hard for me to find all the words to share with you. But I’m going to try…
Prior to working in the archive, I didn’t really know what an archive was. So, for those of you who may not know exactly what it is: An archive is a collection of historical documents, items, or records providing information about a place, institution, or group of people.
Right after our initial meeting over coffee with Marianna, we went straight to work. My first task was organizing and categorizing photographs that were precious to Oscar’s history; such as his family, his hometown and country, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Not only did I fall in love with the gowns but also the person who started it all: Oscar. From clothes to perfume to kitchenware to shoes to handbags to children ware to jewelry and more, Oscar created a fashion empire. Based off of his Dominican Republican roots.
Regarding the work we did, I would describe it as solving a puzzle – you piece together different parts of a collection and once you are done researching, you are able to categorize, date, and add it in writing to the database. I ended up falling in love with this archival process. Going back into history to piece together an incredible story and then work to help share that history to others was an honor. We would work with the fashion company itself and talk with the designers who wanted inspiration to create their new collection. But we would also work with museums to create exhibitions and galas. However, my favorite part of it all was traveling to New York once every season to select specific gowns to store in the archive. This way, if a museum or a magazine wanted to photograph or exhibit an item, we were able to have one handy.
Marianna and I traveled working with exhibitions from all over the world. From working alongside former Vogue Editor, Andre Leon Talley, to create his famous DeYoung exhibitions based in San Francisco, CA to having Women’s Wear Daily (WWD) come to the Archive for a story on the Archive.
Marianna Sheridan created the platform that was needed to share Oscar’s history and work. She made a masterpiece that will forever be remembered and cherished by many. Those three years were unforgettable and special years of my life. Today, I still pinch myself in disbelief that I lived it all. I will never forget this experience and will forever hold near all that I have learned at Oscar de la Renta and, of course, my dear friend and icon Marianna Sheridan.
Photography by Olly Yung
Creative Direction by Nicole Chinuntdet