With sadness, I say good bye to one of fashion’s greatest designers. Oscar de la Renta passed away tonight after a long fight with cancer. He was an American icon, dressing First Ladies and Hollywood legends alike.
My personal recollection of him began in high school with me discovering we shared a birthday. I poured over the glamorous coverage of his fashion shows, hoping to experience his world when I got to New York to work in fashion.
That ambition came true in 1997 when I started working as an embellishment designer. He designed not only his own collection but the Balmain Haute Couture collection as well. He used one of my first embroidery designs of a vine-like sequin and bead pattern on a sheath in his show. He later used another one of my designs, where I had experimented with spray-painting gold fleur-de-lis patterns across sheets of copper sequins. I was overjoyed to see my work as a part of my idol’s runway.
Visiting his studio at 550 7th Avenue was a treat. He and his close staff always looked impeccable. I would have been intimidated if it were not for his warm demeanor. One appointment I had there was cut short unexpectedly. I was shooed out for security clearance as then First Lady Hillary Clinton was coming in for a fitting.
I remember one instance where his son Moises was doing homework in his office. Everyone knew that whenever Oscar had his family there, he would be in a great mood. Oscar was in the middle of fitting a gown on a model a few weeks before his runway show in the studio. He came back to the office to ask his son if he wanted to watch the fitting. Adolescent boys generally don’t jump at watching their fathers pin clothing. However, Moises could see the enthusiasm in his Dad’s eyes and reluctantly joined him to make him happy. Love trumped the need for teenage cool.
In recent years, Oscar de la Renta created memorable looks for pop divas like Beyonce Knowles and sartorial fantasies for Sarah Jessica Parker and Sex and the City. I hope he is surrounded by love and beautiful things like what he himself gave to this world.
portrait by DAVID LORD DE LA RENTA, magazine clipping from officiel magazine 1998