Oscar de la Renta

Tonie Ong

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Articles on Oscar de la Renta

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New York is one of the most stylish cities in the world. It’s home to some of the richest people in the United States—those who can afford to buy and wear luxury brands in their everyday life. Additionally, New York is also home to a lot of fashion creatives, from designers to editors and everyone in between. It is through this world-famous city that the fashion of an entire superpower country is defined. But within the city itself, only a number of designers can claim that they helped define the standards of taste and style of the fashion capital. One of them is Oscar de la Renta.

The Dominican-American couturier is credited as the (or at least one of them) designer to introduce the “Park Avenue” style. A refined and sophisticated and distinctly-American look beloved by socialites and society matrons of the city. Women from different age brackets have embraced the designer’s work, with some even passing their own pieces down from generation to generation. Such is the timelessness and elegance of Oscar de la Renta, whose name in modern fashion is already tantamount to refined glamour. From red carpets to social events of the season, women wear Oscar de la Renta to be the belles of the ball.

From sketching dresses to starting his own label

De la Renta was born on the 22nd of July, 1932, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. His mother’s side, the Fiallos, was one of the most prominent families in Dominican society, introducing Oscar to a world he would eventually dress. In 1950, at the tender age of 18, he went off to Spain to study painting at Madrid’s Academy of San Fernando. In the meantime, he would sketch dresses for newspapers and fashion houses to earn some money on the side. He was later discovered by Francesca Lodge, wife of the US’ ambassador to Spain at the time, and commissioned him to dress her daughter. That dress was featured in Life magazine, and thus, started De la Renta’s career in fashion.

He earned an apprenticeship under Cristobal Balenciaga, at the time one of the most revered couturiers in the industry, where he learned to perfect his craft. In 1960, he left Spain to go to Paris and work as a couture assistant at the house of Lanvin. Three years later, in 1963, he scored a designing job at Elizabeth Arden with the help of Diana Vreeland, then editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine. After two years in the company, he was able to accumulate a number of contacts and clients, enough to start his own label in 1965. From that point on until 2014 when he passed on, Oscar de la Renta dressed a legion of women who embraced his elegant and timeless style.

Significance to American Fashion

Oscar de la Renta is regarded by many as the closes designer label to Paris’ haute couture houses. He incorporated all that he learned from the biggest labels in Europe and instituted his own type of couture in the United States. He’s known most for his elegant evening wear, which has become a staple in society galas in New York and red carpet event in Hollywood. The label has also become a favorite in the bridal industry, with brides from all over the world visiting their atelier in New York just to have the legendary designer make their dresses for their special day. In a city where streetwear was practically invented. Oscar de la Renta stands as one of the last beacons of old-school elegance in fashion.

Venturing into other lines

Apart from their ready-to-wear and bridal lines, the brand has also launched a number of other products for their clients. One such is their fragrance line, which debuted in 1977 with the release of heir first fragrance, OSCAR. After that, a slew of scents followed through the years, including Bella Blanca, Coralina, and Oriental Lace. Additionally, the company has also launched their homewares line back in 2002. They sold various furniture such as dining sets, upholstered chairs, and other knick-knacks, all featuring the sophisticated style his fashions are known for. There’s also a jewelery line launched in 2004, featuring ornate pieces that would go well with his evening gowns.


When De la Renta was still working, he was one of the most decorated fashion designers in the entire industry. He received an array of awards for his achievements in fashion design throughout his career, further elevating the prestige of label. Twice in the 1960’s, De la Renta received the prestigious Coty Award—regarded as the “Oscars” of fashion. In 1973, he was inducted into the Coty Hall of Fame. That same year, he was also inducted into the American Fashion Critics Hall of Fame, after having been awarded by them twice as well. In 1990, he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Council of Fashion Designers of America. He was also bestowed both the the La Gran Cruz de la Orden del Mérito Civil and Gold Medal of Bellas Artes by King Juan Carlos of Spain.

Dressing distinguished personalities

Oscar de la Renta’s clientele boasts an array of distinguished women from different fields, most prominently politics and Hollywood. The brand is one of the most worn during red carpet events, especially the pinnacle of them all, the Academy Awards. Acclaimed actresses such as Amy Adams, Sarah Jessica Parker, Anne Hathaway, and Kerry Washington. He’s also dressed brides such as actress Kate Bosworth and acclaimed human rights lawyers Amal Clooney. Further up, he has also dressed a series of US First Ladies during many of their important White House or International events. The likes of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton, and Michelle Obama have worn Oscar de la Renta more than once.

The elegance of New York fashion is forever influenced by Oscar de la Renta. His brand continues to offer refined and sophisticated ensembles for distinguished women to wear to evening galas and red carpet events. While he may have passed some years ago, his timeless spirit and class live on.

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