From “Project Runway” to Broadway fame, Sosa inspired by both William Ivey Long and Oscar de la Renta

Like Oscar de la Renta, designer Emilio Sosa is originally from the Dominican Republic. And like William Ivey Long, he is known for designing Broadway costumes. Now, Sosa will join those other two famous names in visiting The Mint Museum this spring as part of the “Year of Fashion.”

Teens and educators are invited to register for a FREE event on Saturday May 19, ” From Page to Stage with Emilio Sosa ,” from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at Mint Museum Uptown. And the public is invited to a FREE public lecture on Sunday May 20 from 2-4 p.m. at Mint Museum Randolph. The events are part of the Mint’s celebration of national Art Museum Day .

When first approached by the Mint to pay a visit to Charlotte, Sosa’s reaction was immediate: “Both Oscar de la Renta and William Ivey Long have influenced my work in ways too numerous to mention,” he said. So it’s fitting that his plans bring him to the Mint when both designers’ work will be on view in the Mint’s galleries.

Sosa’s name first hit the mainstream thanks to the hit Lifetime TV show hosted by Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn. On the seventh season of Project Runway, Sosa gained international notice when he won five challenges on his way to a runner-up finish. He made his return to the small screen on season 2 of Project Runway All Stars where he also finished as runner-up. The seemingly tireless Sosa has a fashion line, ESOSA, which has been seen on stars including Uzo Aduba, Taraji P. Henson, and Wendy Williams.

The New York-raised Sosa has been designing since he was 14. He attended the Pratt Institute to study fashion design and it was a part-time job in the famed costume shop Grace Costumes that introduced him to costumes and theater. Upon graduation, Sosa worked in dance for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater as an assistant wardrobe supervisor. Next, he worked for Spike Lee at his advertising agency doing costumes for commercials and as the costume designer for Lee’s independent film, Red Hook Summer. Like William Ivey Long, Sosa is a devoted follower of couturier Charles James; Sosa also calls The Wiz director and costume designer Geoffrey Holder a mentor and credits Holder with teaching him the practical art of designing.

“I learned the practical art of design from Geoffrey, I learned how to speak actor from Geoffrey. Fast forward 30 years and it was refined now with my relationship with William Ivey Long. Those are my bookends as far as how I came into this business,” said Sosa in an interview earlier this year.

Sosa has designed costumes for Broadway productions of Top Dog Underdog (2002), Porgy and Bess (2012), Motown the Musical (2013), and, most recently, On Your Feet: the Emilio and Gloria Estefan Story (2015), currently on its national tour which included a stop in Charlotte this fall. He received a Tony Award nomination for his work on Porgy and Bess.

And following his record on Project Runway, Sosa hasn’t always been a runner-up. In designing the costumes for the Off-Broadway production of By the Way, Meet Vera Stark (2012), Sosa won a Lucille Lortel Award, awards which recognize excellence in New York Off-Broadway theatre. The second-place finisher that year? None other than William Ivey Long.

Exhibition’s VIP preview coincides with ‘Coveted Couture’ gala April 28; public access begins April 29

Following a blockbuster run at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The Mint Museum is preparing to welcome a new, custom-curated version of The Glamour and Romance of Oscar de la Renta this April. The exhibition celebrates the illustrious life and career of the influential fashion designer, and will contain new additions never seen in previous incarnations at other museums. It will pay tribute to a Mint supporter and Charlottean who created the first archives for the late designer, as well as featuring dresses from the Mint’s own Fashion Collection.

The exhibition opens to Mint supporters at the museum’s annual Coveted Couture gala on April 28 at Mint Museum Randolph, 2730 Randolph Road in Charlotte (see for more information). Mint members have exclusive access on April 29 from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.; the general public can visit from 2-6 p.m. on April 29 and during regular museum hours afterward, including four FREE hours of access from 5-9 p.m. each Wednesday. It remains on view through July 29. NEW: The exhibition has been extended and will be on view through August 19, 2018!

Presented in collaboration with Oscar de la Renta, LLC, the exhibition features approximately 50 ensembles sourced from de la Renta’s personal archives, the archives of French label Pierre Balmain, private lenders, and the Mint’s collection. It is curated by André Leon Talley, former editor-at-large for American Vogue magazine and lifelong friend of the designer, with assistance by fashion historians Molly Sorkin and Jennifer Park. Talley curated a previous incarnation, entitled Oscar de la Renta: The Retrospective, at the de Young Museum in San Francisco in 2016.

From the start of his award-winning career, which spanned more than five decades and two continents, Oscar de la Renta set out to design beautiful clothes for every occasion in a woman’s life. The Glamour and Romance of Oscar de la Renta highlights recurring themes throughout his career. Themes to be explored include the influence of the garden on his designs; Spanish influences; and Eastern European influences. The creations on view offer a window into de la Renta’s world through a range of looks, from elegant daywear to resplendent evening gowns.

The exhibition will also pay tribute to Marianna Sheridan of Charlotte, who befriended de la Renta and became the first archivist for Oscar de la Renta LLC. She was instrumental in bringing the designer to Charlotte for a 2011 appearance and fashion show at Mint Museum Uptown, and helped bring a dress from the designer’s archives into the Mint’s collection. She passed away in 2017.

“We are thrilled that the Mint is showcasing Oscar’s extraordinary contributions to the world of fashion, with the help of Oscar’s dear friend André Leon Talley,” said Alex Bolen, CEO of Oscar de la Renta, LLC. “We are honored to pay tribute to our dear friend and colleague Marianna Sheridan and the incalculable contributions she made to the creation of our archive.”

The exhibition is organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, with the collaboration of Oscar de la Renta, LLC. It is presented to the Charlotte community by Wells Fargo Private Bank, with additional support from the Mint Museum Auxiliary, Moore & Van Allen, and Dickens-Mitchener. It is accompanied by a slate of educational programming, including a FREE public lecture by famed fashion designer Emilio Sosa on May 20. Details are available at A catalogue and other accompanying merchandise will be on sale in the Mint Museum Shops.

Media and special guests are invited to preview the exhibition on Friday April 27 at 10 a.m. Talley and Mint curators and staff will be available for interviews, and refreshments will be served. To attend, RSVP to .


Oscar de la Renta (1932–2014) began his career in the 1950s as an apprentice to the renowned Spanish couturier Cristóbal Balenciaga. In 1961, he left Madrid to join Antonio del Castillo in Paris as an assistant in the couture department of Lanvin. Shortly after, he relocated to New York, establishing his own eponymous label in 1965. Lauded by fashion press, he quickly gained prominence on the international fashion scene. Considered among the world’s greatest fashion designers, de la Renta created award-winning ready-to-wear and evening wear for customers ranging from everyday women to first ladies and celebrities. In 1992, de la Renta became a designer for French label Pierre Balmain. He was the first American designer to helm a French couture house, a position he held until 2002.