He was renowned for celebrating the beauty of femininity and for dressing leading figures and Hollywood stars alike, so it is with a very sad heart that we announce that iconic fashion designer Oscar de la Renta passed away yesterday at the age of 82.The legendary designer, whose most recent coup was designing the extravagant ivory tulle gown that Amal Alamuddin wore to wed George Clooney in Venice, finally lost his battle against cancer. Oscar de la Renta’s dear wife of 25 years, Annette, confirmed his death at their home in Kent, Connecticut.
Oscar was diagnosed with cancer in 2006. He confirmed he was battling with the illness in 2012 at the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) event where executive director Fern Mallis called him “the sultan of suave.” Oscar said at the event: “Yes, I had cancer. Right now, I am totally clean. The only realities in life are that you are born, and that you die. We always think we are going to live forever. The dying aspect we will never accept. The one thing about having this kind of warning is how you appreciate every single day of life.”
Determined to not let his illness get in his way, the Dominican Republic native admirably worked harder than ever. During that period his business grew by 50 percent, to US$150 million in sales, and his name became linked to lavish red carpet events like the Academy Awards. He had a legion of A-list fans. Sarah Jessica Parker was one of his most ardent fans both on and off screen – as Carrie Bradshaw in Sex And The City she helped us all fall in love, even more, with the genius designer.
Oscar got his start in fashion as an apprentice for Cristóbal Balenciaga, Spain’s most revered couturier at the time. In 1960 he left Spain for Paris and took up work with Lanvin. It was in this fashion capital that he immersed himself in the world of haute couture and fast made friends with influencers in the industry – it was through Diana Vreeland, editor-in-chief of Vogue, that he secured a role at Elizabeth Arden, designing haute couture gowns for the label’s custom-made line.
Working at Elizabeth Arden gave Oscar the experience, contacts and confidence he needed to eventually launch his own eponymous line, which he did in 1965. Two years later he married his first wife Françoise de Langlade, an editor at French Vogue. Together they were formidable in the fashion world. He married American publisher Annette, six years after the passing of Françoise.
While Oscar also went on to work for Balmain (1993-2002), his true success came under his own label, which included ready-to-wear showstopping gowns as well as successful bridal, fragrance and homeware collections.
George Clooney’s wife, Amal said of Oscar creating her dress: “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. Meeting [Oscar] made the design process all the more magical, as he is so warm and such a gentleman.”
It was Oscar’s attention to detail and understanding of what women want that saw his career successfully span four decades and saw him constantly be at the forefront of the fashion industry. RIP Oscar de la Renta, you will be missed but your incredible designs will live on as a tribute…
Celebrities wearing Oscar’s creations on the red carpet:
Oscar de la Renta spring/summer 2015:
A film celebrating the talent of Oscar De La Renta – a tribute from his friends and loved ones: