Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Oscar de la Renta losses his battle to cancer

Oscar de la Renta, designer to the socialite and Hollywood has lost his 8 year battle to cancer. He was 82.

Monday Mr. de la Renta passed away in his Connecticut home surrounded by family and friends.  According to CNN there was a handwritten statement signed by his stepdaughter Eliza Reed Bolen and her husband, Alex Bolen."While our hearts are broken by the idea of life without Oscar, he is still very much with us. Oscar's hard work, his intelligence and his love of life are at the heart of our company," the statement said. "All that we have done, and all that we will do, is informed by his values and his spirit. Through Oscar's example we know the way forward. We will make Oscar very proud of us by continuing in an even stronger way the work that Oscar loved so much."

July 9, 1956 Cover of Life Magazine - Beatrice Cabot Lodge of the US ambassador to Spain,
debutante gown made by Oscar de la Renta

De la Renta was born July 22, 1932, in the Dominican Republic, he was the only son of seven children. Early in life he knew his passion was for the art of design. "My father had different aspirations for me than I had for myself," he told the "Fashion Talks" audience. "If I ever told my father I would become a fashion designer, he would drop dead on the spot." At the tender age of 19-years-old he persuaded his mother to let him study painting at the Academy of San Fernando in Madrid, Spain. A year later his mother passed, he continued his journey in Spain.
He lived off his allowance to cover wardrobe, room and board. For extra money, he drew clothes for newspapers and fashion houses. It was when Francesca Lodge, the wife of John Davis Lodge, then the United States Ambassador to Spain, saw his sketches that put him on his path. In 1956, Mr. de la Renta was asked to design a coming-out dress for her daughter Beatrice. The dress and the debutante appeared on the cover of Life.

Beyonce in de la Renat in Vogue Magazine

He was apprentice to Cristobal Balenciaga for a couple of years. Then moved onto Paris were he was immediately offered a job at Christian Dior, but instead worked with Lanvin and Balmain. In 1963, he tested his luck and moved to the states where he worked with Elizabeth Arden. In 1965, Mr. de la Renta left Arden to join the Seventh Avenue company of Jane Derby, as partner and designer. Shortly after, Mr. de la Renta took over, with backing from Ben Shaw. It was then that the ready-to-wear label launched in New York. It is fair to say that before de la Renta labels read store brand names, such as Saks Fifth Avenue or Macy's.

People Magazine cover,  Amal Alamuddin wearing de la Renta

Recently, Mr. De la Renta made the wedding dress for Amal Alamuddin. This could be the last Oscar de la Renta wedding dress creation. "It’s the most important dress in the life of a woman,” de la Renta told Vogue. “Any girl from any walk of life dreams of that special dress, and I try to make that dream a reality for her. Amal and I looked at a lot of evening dresses and wedding dresses together, and we discussed what she liked. That gave me the idea of what she wanted.” 

Sex and the City, Carrie Bradshaw, in Oscar de la Renta wedding dress 
It has been in high society and the red carpet that de la Renta truly has shined the most. He has dressed the Royals such as Princes Diana, First Ladies: Jackie KennedyNancy ReaganHillary Clinton, and first daughters Laura Bush (wedding dress) and Chelsea Clinton. Recently, First Lady, Michelle Obama was criticized by Mr. de la Renta for wearing a J. Crew cardigan when meeting the queen and for not wearing foreign designer labels. Last week the First Lady wore her first foreign label. It was made by Mr. de la Renta. 

First Lady, Michelle Obama wearing first time wearing Oscar de la Renta

De la Renta darlings including Cameron Diaz, Sarah Jessica Parker, Taylor Swift and Penelope Cruz. His designs made cameos in Sex and the City. I say cameos, because his dresses almost stole the show when on screen. Charlotte styled his maternity dress and Carrie wore his dazzling wedding dress. It was not just on the big screen that Mr. de la Renta showed his elegance in maternity wear. Kerry Washington wowed spectators on the red carper wearing a de la Renta maternity dress.

De la Renta Maternity dress in Sex and the City (left), Kerry Washington in de la Renta maternity dress (right) 

He served as a board member of The Metropolitan Opera and Carnegie Hall, and others, and he made sure not to overlook children's charity, this includs New Yorkers for Children. He also helped fund schools and day-care centers in La Romana and Punta Cana in his native country.
De la Renta Family: Son-in-Law and CEO, Alex Bolen, step-daughter Wliza Reed Bolen,
Oscar de la Renta and son Moises de la Renta

"The only realities in life are that you are born, and that you die," he told an audience at New York's 92Y "Fashion Talks" series in June 2013. "We always think we are going to live forever. The dying aspect we will never accept. The one thing about having this kind of warning is how you appreciate every single day of life." -CNN

He is survived by his second wife, philanthropist Annette Reed. His first wife, French Vogue editor Francois Langlade, died in 1983.

In addition to his wife Annette, Mr. de la Renta is survived by a son, Moises; stepdaughter, Eliza Reed Bolen; by three sisters, and by three stepchildren and nine step-grandchildren.