After an 8-year battle with cancer, Oscar de la Renta died on October 20th, 2014. Described as warm, confident, and romantic, la Renta is best known for dressing women. Upon his death, he left behind a wife, a son, and a fashion legacy that began in Santo Domingo in 1932. Always creative-minded, he left home to study painting in Madrid, but was drawn to fashion as an apprentice to a couturier, which is essentially a personal fashion designer. After a move to New York and experience with Elizabeth Arden, he launched his first label in 1965.
His marriage to the editor-in-chief of French Vogue greatly helped his career as he met all big names in modern fashion. The couple hosted parties where people like Henry Kissinger would mingle. La Renta and his artistry entered the spotlight when he appeared on the cover of The New York Times Magazine. La Renta became one of the first great designers that people knew by name. His fashion line was extremely popular, and became the name to wear if you wanted to be seen as a real somebody. Beginning in the 1980’s, he dressed First Lady Nancy Reagan, Hillary Clinton, and Laura Bush.
Though he began his career as a designer who made “everyday” clothes for the wealthy and well-accomplished, he is best known among younger fashion fans for his Red Carpet gowns. Everyone from Sarah Jessica Parker to Oprah Winfrey has donned a gown designed by him. One of his last clients before his death was Amal Alamuddin-Clooney, who wore one of his gowns at her wedding. His style on celebrity women included quirky, feathered skirts, Spanish-inspired lace silhouettes, feminine florals, and ruffled trains. His dresses frequently won actresses and singers alike “Best Dressed” accolades. Though la Renta may be gone, his vision lives on, and his brand continues to create clothing that encompasses luxury, beauty, and creativity.
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