NEW YORK – Oscar de la Renta, the worldly gentleman designer who shaped the wardrobe of socialites and Hollywood stars for more than four decades, has died. He was 82.
De la Renta died at home Monday evening in Connecticut surrounded by family and friends and “more than a few dogs,” according to a handwritten statement signed by his stepdaughter Eliza Reed Bolen and her husband, Alex Bolen.
The late ’60s and early ’70s were a defining moment in U.S. fashion as New York-based designers carved a look of their own that was finally taken seriously by Europeans. De la Renta and his peers, including the late Bill Blass, Roy Halston and Geoffrey Beene, defined American style – and their influence is still spotted today.
De la Renta’s specialty was eveningwear, though he also was known for chic daytime suits favored by the women who would gather at the Four Seasons or Le Cirque at lunchtime. His signature looks were voluminous skirts, exquisite embroideries and rich colors.
Most recently, Amal Alamuddin wore a de la Renta-designed wedding dress when she married George Clooney.
First ladies Laura Bush wore an icy blue gown by de la Renta to the 2005 inaugural ball and Hillary Rodham Clinton wore a gold de la Renta in 1997.
On the red carpet at the Academy Awards, Penelope Cruz and Sandra Bullock were among the celebrities to don his feminine and opulent gowns. His clothes even were woven into episodes of “Sex and the City” with style icon character Carrie Bradshaw dropping his name – and comparing his designs to poetry.
As a designer, de la Renta always catered to his socialite friends and neighbors – as the designer and his wife, Annette, were fixtures on the black-tie charity circuit – but he did make occasional efforts to reach the masses, including launching a mid-priced line in 2004 and developing a dozen or so perfumes; the first, called Oscar, was introduced in 1977 and more recently, Rosamor.
In addition to his own label, de la Renta spearheaded the Pierre Balmain collection from 1993-2002, marking the first time an American designed for a French couture house.
De la Renta gave up the title of chief executive of his company in 2004, handing over business duties to the Bolens, but he remained active on the design end, continuing to show his collections during New York Fashion Week.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox
Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.