Oscar de la Renta, a Legendary Fashion Designer

Oscar de la Renta, a Legendary Fashion Designer died Monday evening at the age of 82. One of the world’s leading fashion designers, he may not be quite as recognized as say Yves Saint Laurent, or Coco Chanel, but Oscar de la Renta has had quite an impact on the fashion scene of the last four decades.

Óscar Arístides Renta Fiallo, known professionally as Oscar de la Renta, was a Dominican American fashion designer born in Santo Domingo. He became internationally known in the 1960s as one of the couturiers to dress Jacqueline Kennedy. An award-winning designer, he worked for Lanvin and Balmain and his eponymous fashion house continues to dress leading figures, from film stars to royalty. He reshaped the public image of first ladies, society muses and red-carpet regulars with grand evening wear a celebrated Latin sensuality, European refinement and American versatility.

Oscar de la Renta’s aesthetic was jaw-droppingly beautiful in a way that felt classic and innovative at the same time. He will be remembered as one of the finest, perhaps greatest, designers of our time, the one you already know from countless red carpet dresses, inaugural ball gowns, charity circuits and even just recently, for the wedding gown of Amal Alamuddin for her marriage to George Clooney. In the last foru decades, he dressed Jackie Kennedy, Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton and virtually every society figure known to mankind.

“Right until the very end, right up until his last collection, Oscar de la Renta knew how to make a woman look beautiful.”

He died exactly as he lived: with tremendous grace, great dignity and very much on his own terms. De la Renta gave up the title of chief executive of his company in 2004, handing over business duties to stepdaughter Eliza Reed Bolen and her husband, Alex Bolen, but he remained active on the design end, continuing to show his collections during New York Fashion Week. The weeks before de la Renta’s death were busy ones; he designed the gown worn by Amal Alamuddin when she married George Clooney in Venice and hired designer Peter Copping from Nina Ricci to be his label’s new creative director.

His name became shorthand for the kind of American glamour that meant polished, sporty, youthful, beautiful. His signature looks were voluminous skirts, exquisite embroideries and rich colors. The late ’60s and early ’70s were a defining moment in U.S. fashion as New York-based designers carved out a look of their own that was finally taken seriously by Europeans. De la Renta defined American style then and now.

Oscar de la Renta was the worldly gentleman designer who shaped the wardrobe of socialites and Hollywood stars. His designs, as was he, were eternally presentable, as evidenced by a revival of de la Renta’s relevance in more recent years, thanks to a warm embrace by young Hollywood. De la Renta’s specialty was eveningwear, though he also was known for chic daytime suits favored by the women who would gather at the Four Seasons or Le Cirque at lunchtime.

“Oscar is talented, generous, kind, funny, naughty, loving—he is everything,” said Diane Von Furstenberg at the 2012 Couture Council Awards, where de la Renta accepted the award for Artistry. Said de la Renta that same night: “I’m very lucky because I love what I do.”

As a designer, De la Renta always catered to his socialite friends and neighbors. In addition to his own label, de la Renta spearheaded the Pierre Balmain collection from 1993-2002, marking the first time an American designed for a French couture house, and he was awarded the French Legion d’Honneur as a Commandeur. He also received the Gold Medal Award from the king and queen of Spain.

He was an avid patron of the arts, serving as a board member of The Metropolitan Opera and Carnegie Hall, among others, and he devoted considerable time to children’s charity, including New Yorkers for Children. He also helped fund schools and day-care centers in La Romana and Punta Cana in his native country.

Oscar de la Renta, was a Legendary Fashion Designer who liked light, color, and luminosity. We will always be remembered as the man who made women look and feel beautiful.

Oscar de la Renta, a Legendary Fashion Designer. Remembering The Great Talented Fashion Designer Who Transformed America’s Fashion Style During Four Decades