Oscar de la Renta, the doyen of American fashion, whose career began in the 1950s in Franco's Spain and sprawled across the better living rooms of Paris and New York, and who was the last survivor of that generation of bold, all-seeing tastemakers, died yesterday at his home in Kent, Connecticut. He was 82.
His death was confirmed by his wife, Annette de la Renta.
De la Renta, who was born in the Dominican Republic and went to Spain to study art, made his name in the 1960s dressing one of the major fashion icons of the day, first lady Jacqueline Kennedy.
Oscar de la Renta’s final creation: Amal Alamuddin's dress for her wedding to George Clooney. http://t.co/sctHRtVf2u pic.twitter.com/QIIAYZ6RDk— Airlie Walsh (@AirlieWalsh) October 21, 2014
"I am not interested in shock tactics. I just want to make beautiful clothes" Oscar de la Renta 1932-2014 pic.twitter.com/PxlnwHi2h7— Kate Stephens (@KateStephens_MC) October 21, 2014
He was known as one of the industry’s classic designers, famous for floral, feminine, classy, elegant designs, flattering silhouettes with full skirts, cinched waists, often in soft hues.
Though ill with cancer intermittently for a decade, de la Renta was resilient. During that period, his business grew by 50 per cent, to $150 million in sales, as his name became linked to celebrity events like the Oscars. Amy Adams, Sarah Jessica Parker and Penelope Cruz were among the stars who wore his dresses.
Recently his biggest coup was to make the ivory tulle gown that Amal Alamuddin wore to wed George Clooney in Venice.
Determined to stay relevant, de la Renta achieved fame in two distinct realms: as a couturier to rich socialites - the so-called ladies-who-lunch, his bread and butter - and as a red-carpet king.
He also dressed four American first ladies, but it was Hollywood glitz, rather than nice uptown clothes, that defined him for a new age and a new customer. Just as astutely he embraced social media.