The news of the passing of fashion icon Oscar de la Renta at age 82 came as a shock to the modern fashion world that he helped shape. The Dominican Republic-born designer was among the top designers the world over, renowned for evening wear and suits.
Just this month, Oscar draped one of his creations on British lawyer Amal Alamuddin for her wedding to actor George Clooney. The heavenly off-the-shoulder ivory-beaded tulle dress with Chantilly-lace applique was a closely guarded secret until the moment of the Clooney-Alamuddin wedding–arguably the most closely watched union since that of Prince William and Catherine almost four years ago.
De la Renta’s ability to turn ordinary fabric into a glamorous fantasy was his hallmark.
“It’s the most important dress in the life of a woman,” de la Renta said in an October 2014 story in Vogue magazine when discussing Alamuddin’s wedding dress. “Any girl from any walk of life dreams of that special dress, and I try to make that dream a reality for her.”
Oscar didn’t just dress anonymously glamorous women–he also dressed some of the most wealthy, powerful and sought-after women of our time.
Some of de la Renta’s most notable customers over the years included first lady Nancy Reagan in the 1980s. He was also the designer of choice for first ladies Hillary Clinton in 1997 and Laura Bush in 2005 when they had to wear dress for the all-important inaugural events for their newly elected president husbands.
The most famous and iconic woman–first lady or not–whom Oscar ever dressed, however, was Jacqueline Kennedy. It was his dresses on Mrs. Kennedy that captured the attention of women all over the world in the 1960s and helped catapult him to stardom as a young designer.
His influence also extended to Hollywood, where he dressed starlets including Jessica Chastain and Sandra Bullock. Other famous customers who wore de la Renta’s dresses have included Oprah Winfrey, Sarah Jessica Parker, Cameron Diaz, and Penelope Cruz, among many others.
Ironically, de la Renta was recently in the news for hiring his first-ever creative director, British designer Peter Copping. The designer will have his first showing in February.
Another milestone and a fitting finale to his legacy was also the recent revelation that first lady Michelle Obama finally wore one of his dresses to an event. Obama had famously never worn one of Oscar de la Renta’s creations, but he was able to add the final victory to his long list of accomplishments before he passed away on Monday.