Born in the Dominican Republic, he travelled to Madrid to study painting at the Academy of San Fernando when he was just 18. His introduction to fashion began there, after he was enlisted by Cristóbal Balenciaga to sketch for him. He then went to Paris, where he worked at Lanvin, before moving to New York in the early Sixties and setting up his own label.
De la Renta's feminine aesthetic - borrowing sexiness from his Latin heritage and tempering it with a demure cut learned in Europe - as well as his easy, friendly demeanour, quickly made him a favourite with society ladies. Tall and handsome, he became not only the go-to designer but also a favourite plus one for famous women - from models and actresses to first ladies.
|Oscar De la Renta|
Fellow designer Diane von Furstenberg highlighted De la Renta's fun-loving side, posting an Instagram picture of him clutching a microphone alongside the words: "Oscar de la Renta singing this summer in Greece! He will continue to sing in our hearts! Goodbye Oscar, we love you!"
"The gentleman of fashion you will always be," Naomi Campbell said, accompanied by a picture of herself as a young model on his catwalk, while Karlie Kloss said: "The world has lost one of the most extraordinary people who I have ever met. Thank you for helping me become the woman I am today and for always inspiring me to be better. There is simply no one like you."
"It was an enormous privilege to be dressed by Mr. de la Renta for so many occasions over the last 15 years," Sarah Jessica Parker wrote. "And especially meaningful to collaborate with him for this year´s Met Gala.I will always be grateful that he allowed me to honor him by embroidering his name in scarlet on the hem of his glorious dress. He was an inspiration and a man like no other."
"Of all the designers in the world, Oscar de la Renta was the most reliable at designing clothes that made you feel beautiful," British Vogue editor Alexandra Shulman said this morning. "He stuck to his conviction about how women should look - elegant, joyful, feminine - no matter how fashion changed, but his designs never felt old or hackneyed. If you wore one of Oscar's dresses you felt you looked your best, which is one of the reasons that he was so often a first choice for ball gowns, weddings and public appearances throughout the world."
Although the designer always made it clear that he had no intention of retiring, he enlisted his brand´s first creative director earlier this month. Peter Copping joined the New York brand from Nina Ricci, ending months of speculation about who might be De la Renta's chosen talent. Designer John Galliano was given his first post-Dior return to fashion by De la Renta who hired him for a temporary studio residency which many speculated may turn permanent,but it was not to be.
De la Renta married his wife Anne France Engelhard, who he knew as Annette, in 1989 after he organised a secret Christmas ceremony,WWD notes. He is survived by his wife as well as his son, Moises de la Renta; his three step-children, Beatrice Reed, Charlie Reed and Eliza Bolen; three sisters, who all live in the Dominican Republic; and nine grandchildren.
Eliza and Alex Bolen, De la Renta's step-daughter and step-son-in-law today 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 family, friends 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."