Oscar de la Renta has passed away

Oscar de la Renta photographed for the Koket design blog. Image KOKET

Oscar de la Renta, the prolific Dominican- American designer, has passed away at the age of 82. I’ve been in mourning since.

The exact cause of death is not yet known, but Señor de la Renta had been battling cancer since 2006. This sad news comes just a week after the designer had appointed Peter Copping as the creative director of his eponymous brand.

Classic Oscar: clockwise from top: Benetta Barzini (far left, far right) and Jane Darby (centre) by Irving Penn for 1977 editions of Vogue, Bettina Lauer by Irving Penn for a 1965 edition of Vogue, Marisa Mell by Bert Stern for Vogue 1967 and Wilhelmina Cooper by Irving Penn for Vogue 1965. Image VOGUE

In a career that spanned over 50 years, Señor de la Renta dressed the world’s important women from almost every major field- royalty, first ladies, politicians, socialites, film stars… the designer dressed them all and became a fashion and style icon in his own right. His older work is treasured, while his more recent collections have become synonymous with an easygoing, glamorous past with their structural, feminine gowns and impeccable style.

More vintage Oscar: Angela Lindvall by Arthur Elgort for an early 90s edition of Vogue, Gail Hunnicut by Bert Stern for Vogue June 1968, Karen Graham in 1974. Image VOGUE/ARTHUR ELGORT/CORBIS/BERT STERN

The designer began his career in fashion at the age of 18 while studying art in Madrid. He was mentored by the legendary Cristóbal Balenciaga before starting work as a design assistant at Lanvin in Paris. He moved to New York in 1963, working for Elizabeth Arden’s made-to­-order clothing line in her Fifth Avenue boutique. Mr. De La Renta founded his own prêt-à-porter line in 1965, which has since grown into a multi- pronged $600 million per annul fashion and lifestyle business. As well as designing prêt-à-porter, bridal couture, furniture, custom fabrics and jewelry under his label, he has created collections for Lanvin and Balmain.

Oscar on the Red Carpet: (clockwise, from left) Amy Adams at the 2013 Academy Awards, Leighton Meester on the set of Gossip Girl in 2010, Emma Watson at the March 2014 NYC premiere of Noah, Jennifer Garner at the 2014 Academy Awards. Image GETTY IMAGES

Oscar de la Renta first made a name for himself in the early 1960s when he became the favourite designer of Jacqueline Kennedy, former US First Lady and world renowned socialite and style icon. Since then he has been a staunch favorite with the glamorous globetrotting crowd, with his designs having been worn by trendsetters and world figures including members of numerous noble houses, Audrey Hepburn, Hilary Clinton, Sarah Jessica Parker, Amy Adams and Sandra Bullock. Most recently he designed Amal Clooney’s (née Alamuddin) gorgeous wedding gown for her September 2014 wedding to George Clooney.

Oscar and friends: (clockwise, from left) with muse Nati Abascal in a 1960s photograph by Richard Avedon, with Diane von Fürstenberg at the 2014 Medal of Excellence Gala in New York, with Audrey Hepburn at a 1988 gala. Image VOGUE/RICHARD AVEDON/GETTY IMAGES/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/CARNEGIE HALL

Señor de la Renta was has won a bevy of achievement awards during his career, including two Council of Fashion Designers (CFDA) Designer of the Year Awards, a CFDA Lifetime Achievement Award and two COTY Awards.

Graced with an indefatigable charm, the designer has always appreciated every moment of his high-profile life, saying to Gotham magazine, “A huge mistake we make is forgetting that one day we will die. We think that we are going to live forever. I always say life is a little like a garden. There is a time to plant, then a time you have to weed. Just think about people you’ve deeply cared for. And then think of the people you wish you’d spent more time with…I always say this: Live, love and laugh.”

Oscar de la Renta and Annette de la Renta at a 1991 state dinner at the White House. Image REUTERS/GREGG NEWTON

The designer is survived by his wife Annette and son, Moises, as well as stepchildren and step-grandchildren.

The fashion world has lost one of it’s brightest stars. Like millions of others, I grieve the passing of one of my favourite designers. It’s almost impossible to envision anyone working today who can match or emulate his incredible talent and impeccable style.

Oscar de la Renta with models Linda Evangelista and Yasmeen Ghauri at the end of his F/w 1991 collection at the Louvre in Paris. Image CORBIS

Rest in Peace Oscar de la Renta. Yours was a life well and completely lived. You will be greatly missed.

-Ana

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