A master craftsman, legendary fashion designer and true gentleman passed away on 20th October 2014. After a long battle with cancer, Oscar de la Renta died at the age of 82 in his home in Kent, Connecticut- United States. Eliza and Alex Bolen, de la Renta’s step-daughter and step-son-in-law released a statement on behalf of the company:
“We write to let you know that Oscar passed away last night at home in Connecticut surrounded by friends, family and more than a few dogs. He died exactly as he lived: with tremendous grace, great dignity and very much on his own terms. While our hearts are broken by the idea of life without Oscar, he is still very much with us. Oscar’s hard work, his intelligence and his love of life are at the heart of our company. All that we have done, and all that we will do, is informed by his values and his spirit. Through Oscar’s example we know the way forward. We will make Oscar very proud of us by continuing in an even stronger way the work that Oscar loved so much.”
The Dominican fashion designer who shaped the wardrobe of socialites, film stars, politicians and Royals for four decades was commonly known and referred to as ‘the gentleman of fashion’. Specialising in evening wear and wedding dresses paired with his signature looks of voluminous skirts, exquisite embroideries and rich colours, the New York based designer was a fashion favourite and go-to for red-carpet events amongst countless celebrities including Audrey Hepburn, Cameron Diaz, Nicole Kidman and Penelope Cruz – to name a few. His designs were also worn by the likes of Princess Diana, Oprah Winfrey and Hillary Clinton. Oscar is famously quoted as saying:
Oscar’s introduction to fashion began at the age of 18 at the Academy of San Fernando, where he studied painting. Soon after Spanish designer Cristobal Balenciaga enlisted him as an apprentice to sketch for him, and this is where Oscar learned his trade, before moving to Paris to work under Lanvin and Balmain. In the early sixties de la Renta moved to New York to set up and launch his own ready-to-wear label. Oscar specifically found fame dressing Jackie Kennedy throughout the sixties and is now a renowned and respected designer in his own right, who will be dearly missed.
Oscar had no plans to retire and was working right up to his last days, presenting his last fashion collection for spring/summer 2015 at New York fashion week in September. One of Oscar’s last commissions was the design and creation of Amal Alamuddin’s wedding dress for her recent marriage to George Clooney in mid 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.”
“Meeting him made the design process all the more magical, as he is so warm and such a gentleman.”
The final creation was an ‘exquisite mille-feuille of ivory tulle appliquéd with 14 yards of Chantilly lace, its bodice hand embroidered with beading and crystals.’ Amal and George will be sure to treasure the memory of sharing their special occasion with de la Renta as well as knowing that Amal’s stunning lace dress was the last he had created.
De la Renta remained one of the greatest exceptions, an established traditionalist with a consistently vibrant customer base. After the devastating announcement of Oscar’s death, the fashion world began to say farewell to the revered and much-loved grand master of fashion. Tributes to him poured in from around the world via social media, on the day after Oscar’s death, Jennifer Lawrence made an unwritten tribute to the legendary mentor, role model and designer as she stunned in one of his creations.
As well as his creations, Oscar’s memory, designs and brand will live on through the supervision of creative director Peter Copping and Oscar’s family.
A great loss, our thoughts here at Jules B go out to Oscar’s dear friends, family and loved ones.