Best known for his distinct brand of feminine day and evening wear, Oscar de la Renta has been a key player in the fashion industry for more than fifty years. And following his death on October 20 at age 82, one thing has become all too clear: the world has lost one of the greats.
Oscar de la Renta
Oscar was no ordinary designer. Born Oscar Aristides Renta Fiallo in Santo Domingo in 1932, he grew up wanting to become an abstract painter. But as time passed, he became more and more interested in fashion design. Thanks to that natural artistic talent, he was able to enter the fashion business with ease, first sketching for Spanish design houses before landing an apprenticeship with none other than couturier Cristobal Balenciaga.
By 1961, he was working in Paris for Lanvin and just two years after that, Oscar was in New York City, designing for Elizabeth Arden. The reason behind his choice? He wanted to “get into ready wear, because that’s where the money is.”* After spending two years at Arden, he went to work for Jane Derby, taking over in 1965 and this is when his career began to skyrocket. He created his own ready-to-wear label, which eventually spiralled into multiple fragrances, an accessories line, bridal wear, plus size sleepwear, and even home décor. Add to all this his designs for Balmain between 1993 and 2002 and there is no doubt about it – Oscar de la Renta’s unrivalled talent and expansive career speak for themselves.
My job as a designer is to make a woman feel her very best. – Oscar **
But how did he manage to become this iconic figure in the fashion industry – and remain that way for so many decades? By creating a vision that put his client’s self-confidence first through timeless pieces merging femininity with elegance and strength. Over the years, his brand became known for a number of style trends employed by mass and high end designers alike, including the use of silk prints, classic day and evening shapes, ruffles, the chiffon ball gown, and striking color palettes.
These design hallmarks helped make Oscar a go-to designer for fashion-forward stars like Sarah Jessica Parker, Taylor Swift, Kerry Washington, Cameron Diaz and Amy Adams, who have all grabbed headlines for their whimsical look-at-me gowns by Oscar. He most recently dressed Amal Alamuddin for her wedding to George Clooney. She said of her choice, “George and I wanted a wedding that was romantic and elegant – and I can’t imagine anyone more able than Oscar to capture this mood in a dress.”*** Oscar was also well known as the couturier to the First Ladies. including Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Nancy Reagan, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush, and just a few weeks ago, the current first lady, Michelle Obama.
Whether for a red carpet star or a day-dreaming fashionista in middle America, Oscar knew how to design pieces that made women feel beautiful. And that was the true key to his success.While he will be missed by many, his legacy will live on in every piece – and through every empowered woman.
Sources / Photo Credits :
* Latino Life **Flavor Wire ***Vogue, Everett Collection / Shutterstock.com, Anton Oparin / Shutterstock.com, Everett Collection / Shutterstock.com, Anton Oparin / Shutterstock.com, Jordan Tan / Shutterstock.com