One of the world’s leading fashion designers, Oscar de la Renta was famous for his women’s evening wear and suits, for his his distinctly modern feminine line.
The designer took over several business activities in fashion, home design and beauty. The successful bridal, fragrance and home design collections marked his reputation as one of the most respected designers in the industry, with his exquisite designs everywhere from Jacqueline Kennedy, to modern celebrities such as Sarah Jessica Parker, Taylor Swift, Jessica Alba, Gisele Bundchen, Emma Watson, Anne Hathaway and Liv Tyler.
Oscar de la Renta was born on July 22, 1932, in the Dominican Republic. He was raised alongside 6 sisters in a middle-class household in Santo Domingo.
At the age of 18, he left the Caribbean to study painting in Madrid. While he was there, he dreamed of becoming an abstract painter. Instead, he became attracted by the world of fashion design. His obvious talent for illustration opened doors for him, and he quickly became an apprentice at Cristobal Balenciaga, one of the most renowned couturier in Spain.
1960, The couture assistant
He travelled to Paris to become a couture assistant at Lanvin. Surrounded by the decadent Parisian fashion scene, he quickly addapted in the extravagant world of haute couture, constantly sketching and gaining experience that would serve him later in his career.
1961, The first job
He was officially hired for his first real fashion job at Lanvin-Castillo.
He had moved to New York and joined the American design house of Elizabeth Arden. Here, de la Renta designed haute couture gowns for the label’s custom-made clothing line.
1965, The Ready-to-Wear Collection
This was the year he began his own signature ready-to-wear label.
1967, The Fashion Industry
De la Renta married Francoise de Langlade, an editor-in-chief of French Vogue. Francoise introduced her husband to some of the most influential members of fashion society and invited many of the rich and famous to his shows. His line with delicate silk prints, use of ruffles, soft silhouettes and vibrant palette, soon became synonymous with casual luxury.
1977, The perfume
His first perfume debuted. The fragrance collection has since expanded. Soon, his scents for both men and women were sold in over 70 countries around the world. Respected by his contemporaries, de la Renta served as president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America from 1973 to 1976, and from 1986 to 1988.
The first perfume in 1977
1990, The First Ladies
While de la Renta expanded his lines and took them in a new direction, his pieces had specific key words – feminine and flattering. By the early 2000s, Oscar de la Renta became the preferred brand of American first ladies. He dressed first lady Nancy Reagan (1980), and then provided the gowns for inaugural events for both Hillary Clinton (1997) and Laura Bush (2005).
Photo Source: Our Presidents
1993, A Fashion Legend
The fashion designer was honored with The Queen Sofia Spanish Institute’s Gold Medal and during the same year, he made his debut with Balmain’ couture as the first American designer to head a French house.
2002, The Home Design
Until 2002, de la Renta designed the haute couture collections for Pierre Balmain. This year launched his name in a whole new business venture: furniture. His 100 pieces for Century Furniture featured dining tables, amazig chairs and couches.
Oscar de le Renta Buttoned Wing Chair from Century Furniture
Oscar de la Renta Faux Tortoise Coffee Table from Century Furniture
2004, The affordable line
Despite the risk of changing the value of his brand, he took a risk at that time and added an affordable line of clothing called O Oscar. He simply wanted to attract new customers.
During that same year, de la Renta was named Designer of the Year by the American Apparel & Footwear Association and “OSCAR” the fragrance was inducted into the Fragrance Foundation’s Hall of Fame.
2006, The Bridal Collection
He launched Oscar de la Renta Bridal collection. In the first Sex and the City movie, Sarah Jessica Parker a.k.a. Carrie Bradshaw wore one of his creations for her American Vogue photoshoot.
“My designs are known for their beautiful ornamentation, details, fabrics, and embroideries – which are never more important than one wedding dress.”
De la Renta gave John Galliano his first opportunity to return to the fashion industry after his dismissal from Dior. Galliano completed a temporary studio activity with the brand.
On October 14 2014, the designer appointed Peter Copping as his successor at his eponymous label.
He is well-known for his charitable nature, his commitment to helping the inhabitants of his birthplace can be seen in the foundations of La Casa del Niño (orphanage and school he built for the children of La Romana). Caring for 1.200 children on a daily basis, it provides schooling and day-care for newborns and children so their mothers can work.
De la Renta had been diagnosed with cancer during the first decade of the 2000s. He died of complications from the disease on October 20, 2014 at the age of 82 in Kent, Connecticut.
His flattering and feminine pieces inspired women all around the world, and his attire was captured by several presidential first ladies. His vision remains in the history and his brand still lives through his design.
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