I've decided to start a new "series" type thing which I will be posting every Sunday called Fashion Focus. Each post will focus on a different designer or style icon and will hopefully be a fun way to learn more about them and their contribution to fashion. The first post is about Oscar de la Renta who sadly passed away recently, because he was a major influence on the world of fashion as we know it today.
Óscar Arístides Ortiz Renta Fiallo (he changed his name to "de la Renta" later in life) was born in Santa Domingo in the Dominican Republic to a Dominican mother and a Puerto Rican father in 1932 and raised- the only son with six sisters- in a world filled with intellectuals, artists and politicians.
He moved to Madrid In Spain at the tender age of 18 and began studying painting at the Academy of San Fernando, a school that boasts such alumni as Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí. His mother, who suffered from multiple sclerosis shortly thereafter. He began working as an illustrator for some of the biggest fashion houses in Spain to help pay the bills and to prove to his father that he could make a living.
The passion de la Renta had for art and design, coupled with his illustrious social connections enabled him to work as an apprentice with Spain's most famous designer, Criostóbal Balenciaga in Madrid, and as an assistant to Antonio Castillo in Paris.He later credited the years he spent with Balenciaga and Castillo with assisting in defining the feminine and elegant style he was to become so famously known for.
He gained international fame in the 1960s as a couturier to Jacqueline Kennedy and in the 1980s with Nancy Reagan. He also dressed Hilary Clinton in the 1990s,Laura Bush in the 2000s nd Michelle Obama earlier this month.
He then worked with Elizabeth Arden for two years after a friend advised him the ready-to -wear clothing was were the money was. He was featured in Vogue in 1964 and in 1965 he moved to work at Jane Derby, later taking a 30% stake in the company. When Jane died in August of 1965 de la Renta took over the company, originally naming it Oscar de la Renta for Jane Derby but later changing it to his name in 1966.
In 1967 he married Françoise de Langlade, who was the editor of the French vogue and had previously worked at the fashion house of Elsa Schiaparelli. She moved to America to be with her husband and became the editor-at-large for the American vogue. She died of cancer in 1983.
In December of 1989 he married Anne Frances Mannheimer Engelhard an American socialite who was featured in the best dressed hall of fame.
De la Renta became known for his evening wear but he didn't limit himself to that. In 2006 the brand branched out and began designing wedding dresses. The brand also makes fragrances, accessories, homewares,high end sportswear,cosmetic cases,eyewear,furs,jewellery,lingerie,scarves,sleepwear, and menswear. Over the course of his career Oscar has also designed a garden for Lord Jacob Rothschild, uniforms for the Dominican Republics Police Force and a furniture collection in collaboration with the a duchess of Devonshire.
In conclusion Oscar de la Renta was indisputably one of the best designers fashion has ever seen. His attitude towards his work and his sense of humour enabled him to charm the wealthy and quickly climb his way up the social ladder. I hope that the great work at his label will continue even now that he's gone.
P.S. For some reason Blogger won't allow me to add images to this post so I'll fix that later!