Not Just A Label – Oscar de la Renta

Oscar oscar 1 oscar-de-la-renta-1 oscar de la dress“I am a very restless person. I’m always doing something. The creative process never stops.”

Being well dressed hasn’t much to do with having good clothes. It’s a question of good balance and good common sense, a knowledge of who you are and what you are.” Oscar de la Renta.

Oscar de la Renta was born on July 22, 1932 in the capital city of the Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo. He was raised alongside six sisters, and surrounded by tropical vegetation and vibrant colours, all of which he cites as inspiration for his future designs. He was, from a young age, interested in art and colour and at the age of 18 he left the Caribbean to study painting in Madrid at the Academy of San Fernando. While in Spain he dreamed of becoming an abstract painter, but soon became enticed by the fashion world after sketching for a few leading fashion houses. His undeniable talent for illustration opened doors for him and he quickly secured himself an apprenticeship with one of the world leading fashion houses, Balenciaga. In 1960, de la Renta moved to Paris to become a couture assistant with Lanvin-Castillo. He immersed himself in the vibrant, fast paced, extravagant Parisian couture scene; constantly sketching and gaining invaluable experience which would serve him the rest of his career.

In 1963 he moved to New York, and with the help of then editor in chief of Vogue, Diana Vreeland, secured himself a position designing haute couture gowns for Elizabeth Arden’s custom made clothing line. This newly found firm footing gave him room to develop his own signature style and gain the contacts which would help him launch his own label in 1965, when he released his own ready to wear line. In 1967, de la Renta married Francoise de Langlade, the then editor in chief of French Vogue, this union made them the most high profile couple in the fashion industry. De Langlade introduced de la Renta to the most influential members of fashion society and invited the rich and famous to his shows. His ruffles, soft silhouettes, vibrant colour and delicate silks gave de la Renta the title of ‘casual luxury.’ His modern, striking, romantic designs were very popular and his label saw much success. Oscar de la Renta became very well respected and was appointed president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America for 5 years during the 70s and 80s. In 1983, de la Renta’s wife Francoise died of bone cancer, a great tragedy to de la Renta. Shortly after her death, he adopted an orphan from his native country, and remarried six years later to Annette Reed, an American publisher.

The 70s and 80s saw an expansion of his lines with ‘Miss O.’ The 90s saw further expansion of de la Renta’s lines and a new direction in his lines, however his pieces remained feminine and flattering. He also designed for Pierre Balmain during this time, boosting their sales considerably. He released a menswear line and bridal line and a diffusion line ‘O Oscar.’ He has continued to design in to his 80s, most recently he designed the wedding gown of Amal Alamuddin for her marriage to George Clooney. Since launching his own label, de la Renta has well established himself as one of the most successful and respected designers in the industry. A fantastic talent and a remarkable man who died at 82 on October 20th 2014.

Shop vintage Oscar de la Renta for SS15 in our collection, Vintage Oscar de la Renta Floral pleated skirt with quilting detail