Oscar de la Renta: The Godfather of Glamour

Karlie Kloss and Oscar de la Renta“I wanted this, I wanted to do this, but my work is me, and it has to be right.”

There is no shortage of Oscar de la Renta quotes, though it is the preceding that I find most favorable. It embodies the quintessence of the man: Right, he never got it wrong.

The world lost an extraordinary individual on Monday, as the globally-renowned fashion designer died of complications from cancer at the age of 82, his wife told The New York Times.


From beginning to end, everything Oscar de la Renta did, he did right. His work spread over the course of several decades, altering with the times yet never losing its essence. And that was the brilliance of de la Renta. He transcended his trade, you see. Because even if an individual doesn’t follow fashion, they have more than likely heard of Oscar de la Renta.

Born in the Dominican Republic, de la Renta came to the United States during the 1960s. Then, the ascending designer had already trained under the tutelage of Cristobal Balenciaga, and at Lanvin in Paris by the time he’d arrived in the States. He excelled almost immediately.

Blending his Dominican roots and Parisian training, de la Renta fabricated an American masterpiece to be revered the world over. It was de la Renta who initially served as (and perhaps, thee) pioneer of high fashion in the States — acquiring respect from the European houses — and paving the way for the likes of Carolina Herrera and Michael Kors. Though it was not until 1993 that de la Renta made his debut as a couture designer, for the house of Balmain.

Celebrities in Oscar de la Renta

With Oscar de la Renta it was always about the beauty. The glamour. And these were the key essentials that attracted Hollywood to his creations.

There were few things more gratifying for de la Renta than seeing his dresses paraded across red carpets by the world’s most beautiful women. Loyalists such as Sarah Jessica Parker, Taylor Swift, and Jessica Biel have dressed in de la Renta’s designs for countless occasions.

It was Hollywood that made de la Renta’s designs glamourous, but it was the White House that made them elegant. Oscar de la Renta, essentially, was the unofficial “First Couturier” of the United States. Beginning with Jacqueline Kennedy, de la Renta had dressed almost every First Lady since, including Michelle Obama. Having said that,  the most notable of those relationships was the one shared with Hillary Clinton.

Mrs. Clinton began wearing de la Renta’s designs during her husband’s first term, and the family had maintained a significant relationship with the designer ever since. The William J. Clinton Presidential Library hosted a temporary exhibit in 2013 honoring Oscar de la Renta’s iconic excellence in American fashion history.

We will never see another Oscar de la Renta. He was a merciful force in the most elegant way. What made de la Renta’s work genius was that it was, and is, timeless. Although the fashion industry has lost one of the all-time greats, the house is now in the hands of designer Peter Copping. Copping, the former artistic director at Nina Ricci, was appointed the new creative director and is scheduled to begin work on November 3.

Oscar de la Renta signature

About Sirelle Carter

"The words you speak become the house you live in."
This entry was posted in Fashion, Obituaries and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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