Last week we lost one of fashionâs most influential icons. Oscar de la Renta passed away peacefully in his home in Connecticut, surrounded by his wife Annette and family, after a long battle with cancer. His legacy is one of talent, designing evening wear that made women look and feel beautiful, and kindness, a trait that he showed everyone he met and worked with in his four decades of designing. Born in 1932 in the Dominican Republic, Oscar grew-up in a modest home with six sisters. He had aspirations to become an abstract painter and left home at the age of 18 to study painting at the Academy of San Fernando in Madrid. During his time in Spain, he became distracted by fashion and began sketching his own designs, one of which ended up in the hands of the then-U.S. Ambassador’s wife. She asked Oscar to design a dress for her daughter, a dress that would be featured on the cover of Life Magazine, making him a ânameâ overnight. His immense talent was noticed and quickly landed him an apprenticeship with renowned Spanish designer, Cristobal Balenciaga. He was given his first job as a real designer for fashion house Lavin in Paris in 1961. Within two years he made the move to New York to work for Elizabeth Arden and shortly thereafter had gained theÂ confidence to launch his own signature ready-to-wear line in 1965.
Oscar was vibrant and he loved life, and it showed through his designs. His work was part romance from his time spent in Paris and his ability to just âget womenâ and what made them look beautiful, and part expressive Spanish influence from his roots in the Dominican Republic. He dressed first ladies, socialites and Hollywood stars, and most recently designed a custom gown for the most talked about bride, Amal Alamuddin, for her wedding to George Clooney. First lady Laura Bush, whom he designed many dresses, including daughter Jennaâs wedding dress, said this about him, âMy daughters and I have many fond memories of visits with Oscar, who designed our favorite clothes, including Jenna’s wedding dress. We will always remember him as the man who made women look and feel beautiful.”
He was known for his stunning evening and bridal gowns that could literally take your breath away, and was always a favorite name on the red carpet in Hollywood. Oscar stayed true to his purpose, designing what we loved and famously once said, âI donât really know how to do casual clothes.â While his specialty was evening wear, he was also known for his chic daytime wear and line of fragrances. His first scent Oscar launched in 1977 and is still a classic, sought-after scent by todayâs woman. His most recent fragrance, Something Blue is a scent brides will don on their wedding day for many years to come.
His legacy will live on as the man who put American designers on the global map in the 1960s and 70s, single handily helping U.S. designers carve out their own look and gain the respect of the Europeans.Â There will never be anyone else like Oscar. His designs will be unmatched, and his ability to bring out all facetsÂ of beauty in a woman is something that was one-of-kind. Thank you for what you did for fashion, for philanthropyÂ and for future designers all over the world. Oscar, you will be missed.
“Oscar de la Renta once dreamed of creating a perfume that in one drop captured all of the joy and sophistication of his designs.”
Explore Luxurious Fragrances by Oscar de la Renta.