A TO Z OF DESIGNERS OSCAR DE LA RENTA
He was a world-renowned fashion designer, famed for his couture-inspired ready-to-wear collections that have provided many a star dust moment on the international red carpets. Oscar De la Renta started out in 1965 when he launched his eponymous label before going on to develop a successful bridal, fragrance and home ware range that cemented his reputation as one of the most respected and successful designers in the fashion industry. His exquisite designs have been worn by everyone from Jacqueline Kennedy to Sarah Jessica Parker and Gisele Bundchen.
¨ I am not interested in shock tactics, I just want to make beautiful clothes. ¨ – Oscar De La Renta
1. De la Renta was born on July 22, 1932 in the Dominican Republic capital city Santo Domingo. He has often cited the tropical vegetation and the vibrant colour palettes of the island as inspiration for his striking designs.
2. At the tender age of 18, he travelled to Spain to study art at The Academy of San Fernando in Madrid. After sketching for leading design houses, the young artist landed a covetable apprenticeship with Cristóbal Balenciaga, Spain’s most revered couturier at the time.
3. In 1960 de la Renta travelled to Paris to become couture assistant at Lanvin. Surrounded by the decadent Parisian fashion scene, he immersed himself in the extravagant world of haute couture, constantly sketching and gaining invaluable experience that would serve him well throughout his career.
4. In 1963 he travelled to America and, under the mentorship of then editor-in-chief of Vogue Diana Vreeland, he secured a role at Elizabeth Arden designing haute-couture gowns for the label’s custom-made clothing line.
5. It was during his tenure at Elizabeth Arden that the young designer gained valuable contacts and, in 1965, Oscar de la Renta the label was launched to widespread acclaim.
7. From 1973 to 1976, and 1986 to 1988 he was president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America. During this time he launched the prestigious CFDA Awards which replaced the Coty American Fashion Critics’ Awards. He has himself been the recipient of both Coty and CFDA awards, receiving the Coty award in 1967 and 1968, a CFDA Lifetime Achievement Award in 1990, and the CFDA Womenswear Designer of the Year award in 2000, and again in 2007 when he tied with Proenza Schouler.
8. 1977 saw the launch of Oscar, the label’s first fragrance. The fragrance collection has since expanded to incorporate scents for both men and women and is sold in over 70 countries around the world.
9. In 1989, six years after the death of his first wife, he married Annette Reed, a respected American publisher.
10. From 1993 to 2002, de la Renta designed the haute couture collections for Pierre Balmain, reviving the French fashion house who prior to this has seen disappointing sales.
11. In 2002, the inaugural Oscar de la Renta Home line was launched. Inspired by the designer’s homes in various parts of the world, the line has three distinctive themes; city, island, and country. “There is no more important expression of this concept than that of my own personal living space”, says the designer.
12. 2006 saw the launch of the Oscar de la Renta Bridal collection:”My designs are known for their beautiful ornamentation, details,fabrics, and embroideries – which are never more important than on a wedding dress.” Sarah Jessica Parker’s Carrie Bradshaw famously wore one of his creations for her American Vogue photoshoot in the first Sex and the City film.
13. 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, the orphanage and school that 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.
15. The designer’s label is very family-orientated. His son-in-law Alex, his step-daughter Eliza, and his adopted son Moises all work for the label.
17. On October 14 2014, the designer appointed Peter Copping as his successor at his eponymous label. “My hope is that, inleading this selection, and actively participating in the transition, I can ensure the right design future for our company and brand,” he told WWD.
18. A week later on October 20, de la Renta passed away following a long battle with cancer. He was 82. He is survived by his wife, Annette, as well as his son, Moises de la Renta; his three step-children, Beatrice Reed, Charlie Reed and Eliza Bolen; three sisters, who all live in the Dominican Republic; and nine grandchildren.
Article: Charles Daniel McDonald / Vogue Designers Fact Sheet
Photography: Oscar De La Renta