Remembering Oscar de la Renta

By Stephanie Neri

The fashion industry lost one of its greatest assets this past Monday. On Oct. 20, the legendary fashion designer, Oscar de la Renta, passed away at 82 in his home in Kent, Connecticut. According to his wife, Annette, it was caused by complications of cancer. Born in the Dominican Republic, this couturier sparked his fame in the 1960s for dressing style icons, such as Jackie Kennedy and several of the First Ladies, including Hillary Clinton and most recently, Michelle Obama. Over the course of five decades, he created elegant and breathtaking fashion based on the skills he mastered in Spain working at Balenciaga, and in Paris, at Lanvin under Antonio Castillo. Once he mastered his tools of trade, he started making a name for himself by taking on more responsibility and making many connections within the industry.

“He was known as a fashion staple, and his über girly audience will forever idolize his work,” Mia Lazarus, a sophomore community health major, said.

De la Renta was known for ultra-feminine silhouettes and stunning, ethereal designs, full of elaborate details and extraordinary hues. To channel de la Renta’s intricate and dainty style, we often find ourselves thinking about the beautiful ball gowns, perpetually chic suit sets and enchanting jewelry pieces. However, de la Renta was not about the glitz and glamour. He always designed for the ultimate goal of women looking and feeling beautiful. He styled most of the pieces in his collections simply yet intricately in their own way. For example, mixing diverse patterns and textures was not his method to success. Instead, it was his unique embellished lace embroidery or his impeccable choice of color that bore de la Renta’s signature.

“Obviously being able to afford a piece by this great designers is not in the budget for a full time college student like myself, freshman communication Sara Esposito said. “I dream, however, of one day being able to own a timeless ensemble of his. For now, just being in the presence of his collections make me giddy, just like a kid in a candy shop.”

De la Renta also left his ineradicable mark on bridal wear. He was praised for his subtle yet tasteful touch when designing, what is said to be, the most important ensemble of your life. His bridal collections made every girl’s big day even more magical, because elegance triumphs all. He designed wedding dresses for many public figures such Katherine Heigl, Amanda Peet and newlywed, Amal Clooney.

Oscar de la Renta in May, 1982. Photo from
Oscar de la Renta in May, 1982. Photo from

Committed to his work, de la Renta was one of the industry’s top designers for several decades. Although he had been suffering for eight years, his illness did not slow him down. In the course of this period, business boomed by 50 percent to $150 million in sales.

“He never once complained about his illness, always positive, always looking forward,” Vogue’s Editor in Chief Anna Wintour wrote online.

He was more determined now than ever to stay relevant in the fashion realm.

“Oscar de la Renta was both a smart business man as well as a fashion genius, Danielle Morreale, a freshman business student, added. “Not only did he design clothes that were the epitome of couture, they were also timeless. His creations hold a lasting longevity – they would never go out of style.”

In honor of one of the most impeccable iconic designers of our time, we reminisce through our favorite moments starring de la Renta’s creations.


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