In Memoriam: Oscar de la Renta

At the age of 82, Oscar de la Renta has passed away. The celebrated doyen of American high fashion had been battling cancer for nine years.

The news comes just days after the announcement that Peter Copping would become the house’s new creative director, the first position of its kind at the company. Less than a month ago, Amal Alamuddin was married to George Clooney in a wedding dress designed by de la Renta.

Born in the Dominican Republic in 1932, de la Renta left home after high school to study painting in Spain. There he developed a love of fashion design and began apprenticing with the couturier Cristóbal Balenciaga. Shortly thereafter, de la Renta took a job with Lanvin in Paris. In the 1990s, long after establishing himself in New York, he designed couture for the French house of Balmain.

De la Renta is particularly esteemed for dressing luminaries and VIPs for red-carpet and formal events. He launched his eponymous label in the mid-1960s and shot to fame when Jacqueline Kennedy wore his designs as First Lady. Throughout many White House administrations, his work continued to grace First Ladies, including Betty Ford, Nancy Reagan, Hillary Clinton, and Michelle Obama.

He had an especially cordial relationship with Clinton, with whom he shared the stage at the 2013 CFDA Fashion Awards. “She might not like me to say this,” he told the audience, “but I think she’s going to be our next president.” The room erupted in applause.

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