Treasured couturier Oscar De La Renta sadly passed away a few days ago. Never swayed by trends or the social attitude towards the way that women should look, De La Renta upheld his own opinions on style and became the go-to designer for frothy, full-skirted ballgowns, streamlined evening dresses and intricately delicate bridal wear.
It’s undeniable that Oscar De La Renta was the epitome of timeless sophistication. Right up until his final collection for his namesake house, De La Renta channelled class and refinement into every single garment he designed. An international tastemaker, he notably dressed Jacqueline Kennedy in addition to a multitude of other icons, clothing them with equal measures of both elegance and sensuality.
There is no sound more feminine than a woman in a taffeta dress
After receiving training from Antonio del Castillio at Lanvin and Cristobal Balenciaga, Oscar De La Renta went on to work with Elizabeth Arden and Jane Derby in addition to establishing his own highly desirable label. He then became the first Dominican designer to direct a Parisian couture house when he took the lead at Balmain in 1993, where he helped the house through the decline of couture; adhering to modest classicality and faultless cut and silhouette and rejecting the ostentatious and lavish approach that other couturiers had begun to rely on to regain business.
But it was Mr De La Renta’s attitude and approach that I truly admire. He was permanently unfazed by the idea of controversy; he designed clothes because he adored women and had a genuine desire to produce something both beautiful and wearable, stating
I want to make clothes that people will wear, not styles that will make a big splash on the runway
He acknowledged that women were becoming increasingly more in control of their own lives and he focussed on this, drawing up garments that were tailored to their lifestyles and tastes. He designed to satisfy his client, not the desires of the newspapers or the controversial fashion writer. In an era where fashion is becoming more and more so something that it produced purely for the sake of attention or to ruffle a few feathers, Oscar De La Renta, as a pioneer of authentic, genuine style, will be sorely missed.