Oscar de la Renta, a fixture in American fashion who had been battling cancer for the past 10 years finally succumbed to the disease on Monday, as disclosed by his wife, Annette de la Renta, to the New York Times. He was renowned for designing evening wears for first ladies and Hollywood starlets alike.
A noted designer since the middle of the century, De la Renta was born in the Dominican Republic in 1932. He moved to Madrid in the ’50s to study art and apprenticed there with another fashion icon, Cristobal Balenciaga. From there, the designer moved to Paris to work for Antonio del Castillo at Lanvin and, by 1963, was working for Elizabeth Arden in New York.
He rose to fame in the 1960s by dressing Jackie Kennedy and launched his line in 1965. Since then, former first ladies Nancy Regan, Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton have all worn his designs. Current First Lady Michelle Obama wore one of his dresses for the first time earlier this month at a cocktail party, the New York Times reported.
De la Renta’s gowns have been a staple, too, on red carpets, worn by A-list stars like Cameron Diaz, Penelope Cruz, Nicole Kidman and Sarah Jessica Parker.
De la Renta was given a lifetime achievement award by the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 1989.
More recently, he designed Amal Alamuddin’s dress for her wedding to George Clooney in Venice, Italy, in September. “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,” Alamuddin told Vogue magazine that month.
“Any girl from any walk of life dreams of that special dress, and I try to make that dream a reality for her,” de la Renta said at the time.
In the words of De la Renta on the difference between fashion and style – “Fashion is about dressing according to what’s fashionable,” he said. “Style is more about being yourself.”