By: Allison Wisyanki ~Staff Writer~
Legendary fashion designer Oscar de le Renta died at 82 on Oct. 20. He dressed every first lady since Jacqueline Kennedy, along with celebrities such as Amy Adams, Sarah Jessica Parker and Oprah Winfrey. His passion for fashion showed through his creations, which appeared on the red carpet, the Oval office and plenty of fashion weeks for over four decades.
According to family and friends, the cause of his death is unclear.
In 2006 he was diagnosed with cancer and battled for eight years, so his death may be linked to complications with cancer. De la Renta was born July 22, 1932, in the Dominican Republic. Although his father wanted him to join the insurance business, he had different aspirations.
At 19, he studied abroad at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando in Madrid. While
there, he studied abstract art before discovering that fashion was what he truly wanted to pursue. For extra money, he drew clothes for newspapers and fashion houses. The U.S. Ambassador to Spain’s wife saw some of his sketches and asked him to design a gown for her daughter, which appeared on the cover of Life magazine.
After this feature, he switched his primary focus from art to fashion. He soon landed an apprenticeship with Cristobal Balenciaga, one of Spain’s most renowned designers, where he sketched dresses to send to clients. He eventually moved to Paris and was offered a job at Christian Dior, but instead worked at the fashion house Lanvin as Antonio del Castillo’s assistant. Two years later, he moved to New York and worked as Elizabeth Arden’s designer.
In 1965, he launched his own brand and made a big splash in the fashion world. He not only designed clothes but branched his brand into fragrance, home goods and furniture. He made his debut as a couture designer in Paris in 1993 with his Pierre Balmain collection. De la Renta has won two Coty Awards, which are the fashion equivalent of the Oscars, in 1967 and 1978.
In 1973, he was named to the Coty Hall of Fame, and in 1989, given a lifetime achievement award by the Council of Fashion Designers of America. De la Renta appointed Peter Copping as his creative director just days before he passed away. “Our industry has not always done the best job when it comes to changes in design leadership,” Copping said. “My hope is that, in leading this selection, and actively participating in the transition, I can ensure the right design future for our company and brand.” “The fashion business says goodbye to a mentor, a legend and an icon.
He defined a standard we can only aspire to,” Kenneth Cole tweeted upon hearing the news. Oscar de la Renta will surely be missed.