Smithsonian Collections

Purple dress designed by Oscar de la Renta and worn by Whitney Houston

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Data Source
National Museum of African American History and Culture
Description
A purple Oscar De La Renta gown with beaded cuffs worn by the singer Whitney Houston during the performance of the song "The Greatest Love of All" at the Americana Concert in New York City on July 4, 1986. This dress is an evening-length dress in a straight sheath style, with a bateau collar, full-length sleeves, a high slit at the proper right front, and a deep cowl back. The dress is made from a vibrant purple silk which is pattererned throughout with repeating ovals of a darker purple in varying sizes. The sleeves are in a very full peasant style, with pleated shoulders and stiffening sewn into each cap. The sleeves end in 5-3/4 inch long heavily ornamented cuffs that are covered in black velvet and adorned with beads in varying sizes. Large oval- and teardrop-shaped cabochon glass beads of blue, garnet, amber, and green set in 4-prong settings are centered on the cuffs in a floral design. This central cluster of larger cabochons is surrounded by a swirling pattern of individually stitched pearls, strands of strung gold bugle beads, and strands of strung gold seed beads. The swirling pattern of stitched gold beads continues around the inside of the cuff, wrapping around additional pearls and 4-prong set clear and garnet-colored cabochons. There is a set-in zipper on the inside of each cuff.
Inside the dress, on the verso, at the lowest point of the cowl in the back, is a 1-1/2 inch wide purple grosgrain ribbon attached at the inside hem. The ribbon has two (2) hook-and-eye fasteners for fastening around to the front waist. The dress is not lined.
Designed by
Oscar de la Renta, American, founded 1965
Worn by
Whitney Houston, American, 1963 - 2012
Date
1986
Credit Line
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of the Estate of Whitney Houston
Medium
silk, velvet, glass, metal, and synthetic fiber
Dimensions
H x W x D (On form): 58 1/2 × 19 1/2 × 12 in. (148.6 × 49.5 × 30.5 cm)
H x W x D (Flat): 32 1/2 × 23 × 3 1/2 in. (82.6 × 58.4 × 8.9 cm)
Type
dresses
Topic
African American
Actors
Clothing and dress
Costume
Fashion
Popular music
Singers (Musicians)
Women
Restrictions & Rights
No Known Copyright Restrictions
See more items in
National Museum of African American History and Culture Collection
Classification
Clothing-Costume
Clothing-Fashion
Place used
Liberty State Park, Jersey City, New Jersey, United States, North and Central America
Object number
2014.161.1