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Oscar de la Renta

Behind the Brand

21

From high society to high fashion

The youngest of seven children and the only boy in his family, Oscar de la Renta first discovered his skill for design whilst drawing clothes for newspapers and fashion houses to earn a little extra money. With famous and over-achieving relatives on all sides, Oscar was quietly studying painting in Spain when his work was noticed by the wife of the US Ambassador to Spain who asked him to design her daughter’s debutante gown. Soon after, Oscar began sketching for leading fashion houses, before becoming an apprentice for Cristóbal Balenciaga, who became his mentor.

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Beatrice Lodge, daughter of the US Ambassador, has a dress fitting for her debutante ball by Oscar de la Renta in 1956.

The label

First appearing in Vogue in 1964, Oscar de la Renta already had a wealth of design experience under his belt, and after joining Jane Derby in New York City, he took over the label as his own after her death in 1965. His passion was making women look and feel great, with bright colours, bold patterns and beautiful silhouettes.

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1965 Vogue

Awards galore

His accolades and awards stacked up through the years; with two Coty Awards (the fashion industry’s equivalent to the Oscars) as well as two Council of Fashion Designers Designer of the Year Awards. He was also a two-time winner of the American Fashion Critic’s Award and held numerous international honours and titles. His final honour was receiving the Carnegie Hall Medal of Excellence in 2014.

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Oscar de la Renta reviving his medal in 2014
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Oscar receives a CFDA award

Bridal arrives

The first Dominican to design for a French couture house, Oscar created the haute couture collection for Balmain for nearly ten years whilst also diversifying and developing his own brand. With lines in fragrance, accessories and homeware as well as a less expensive clothing line, ‘O Oscar’, de la Renta also added a bridal collection in 2006.

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Oscar de la Renta Spring 2018 bridal collection
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The first fragrance – OSCAR

The First Ladies’ favourite

A household name in the field of haute couture, Oscar de la Renta was renowned for designing for America’s First Ladies, and a collection of his outfits was shown in 2014 to celebrate his five decades of style.

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Former First Lady Nancy Reagan, Larry King and Duke Blackwood, executive director of the Ronald Reagan Library view Nancy’s Oscar de la Renta gowns. IMAGE: Bob Riha Jr/WireImage

Vogue

Oscar de la Renta remained familiar with the pages of Vogue throughout his career, lending elegant luxury and signature bold style to celebrity shoots and features.

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Grace Mahary, Imaan Hammam, and Cindy Bruna model Oscar de la Renta. IMAGE: Craig McDean, Vogue, January 2014
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Kirsten Dunst in a Marie Antoinette inspired dress. IMAGE: by Annie Leibovitz, Vogue, September 2006
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Kate Moss in Oscar de la Renta. IMAGE: Photographed by Bruce Weber, Vogue, August 2008

Outside the magazines and off the catwalks, A-listers continued to drape themselves in Oscar de la Renta across the world, he even designed Amal Alamuddin’s wedding dress.

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Amal Alamuddin and her dress for her wedding to George Clooney. IMAGE: by Annie Leibovitz, Vogue, October 2014

And now…

Peter Copping led the brand as Creative Director from 2014 until 2016, and now Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia have taken the reins as joint creative directors. Bringing youthful clean lines to de la Renta’s signature rich fabrics and bold prints, the pair have pocketed plenty of Oscar’s exuberance, having worked closely alongside him and adored him and his work for many years, even creating their own label, named Monse, in memory of Oscars mother. Their vision can be seen throughout their collections, with celebrities just as in love with Oscar de la Renta as ever.

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Oscar de la Renta’s Spring 2018 collection
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