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An ode to Oscar de la Renta and his legacy

By KATHARINE RUBERY | November 6, 2014

On Oct. 20, 2014, Oscar de la Renta died at the age of 82 in his home in Kent, Conn. After struggling with cancer for eight years, De La Renta passed away leaving behind a massive legacy of prêt-a-porter fashion. Born and raised in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, he always desired to work in the fashion field throughout his youth. After training with Cristobal Balenciaga in Spain, De La Renta moved to work with Antonio del Castillo at Lanvin.

His advanced training eventually landed him a job at Elizabeth Arden in New York before beginning his own line in the 1960’s. De La Renta became known for his voluminous skirts, vibrant colors and detailed embroidery. His classic, timeless style caught the eye of women everywhere, from politicians to celebrities. Beginning by dressing Jacqueline Kennedy, Oscar displayed his prowess for classic cuts and feminine beauty. Other celebrities who avidly donned his looks on the red carpet include Amy Adams, Sarah Jessica Parker, Penelope Cruz and Zooey Deschanel. When speaking of himself, De La Renta was very aware of his fashion ideals.

“I like light, color, luminosity,” he said. “I like things full of color and vibrant.”

His continual recognition of his taste spurned from his reasons behind designing: “Fashion is about dressing according to what’s fashionable. Style is more about being yourself. “

His repeated appearance in red carpet looks effectively put his designer label on the map. Timeless beauties relied on De La Renta’s designs to keep their appearance classic and off the fashion police’s “worst dressed” lists. During his career, De La Renta has received the Coty Award, served as the president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), earned the lifetime achievement award and won the Founders Award from the CFDA. Fashion lovers everywhere  found solace in pieces of his collections. One of his beloved clients, Sarah Jessica Parker, has honored De La Renta repeatedly over the past few weeks.

The Sex and the City alum stated, “It was an enormous privilege to be dressed by Mr. de la Renta for so many occasions over the last 15 years, 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 Scarlett on the hem of his glorious dress. He was an inspiration and a man like no other.” Sarah Jessica Parker was his main client who even integrated the designer into her hit television show.

De La Renta proved throughout his life to be more than a designer. His pieces were art that inspired people everywhere. After a less than fulfilling fashion week, the de la Renta line salvaged the show for many fashion lovers everywhere. His Spring 2015 line was the epitome of polished femininity. His A-line hems, gangam prints, lace overlays and textured details stood out to compile one of de la Renta’s loveliest shows. His cuts were flattering and remained reminiscent of the ‘60s charm he once so beautifully created.

One of De La Renta’s greatest talents was making the timeless retro, fashion forward. His manipulation of cuts, prints and the vintage magnified his overall talents. De la Renta made the past both fashionable and new. He himself stated, “The great thing about fashion is that it always looks forward.”

The passing of Oscar De La Renta is a loss to both the fashion world and the universe as a whole. As a legend, De La Renta’s designs will continue on through the timeless women he dressed. As super model Karlie Kloss once stated, “There is no one on earth who makes a woman feel more beautiful than Oscar de la Renta.”

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