Oscar de la Renta
(born July 22
) is a leading fashion designer
Oscar de la Renta (born Oscar Aristides Renta Fiallo) was born in the Dominican Republic
to a Puerto Rican
father and a Dominican
mother. At the age of 18, he moved to Spain
, where he studied painting at the Acade of San Fernando
. He quickly changed his focus to fashion. While living in Spain, he became interested in the world of design and began sketching for leading Spanish fashion houses, which soon led to an apprenticeship with Spain's most renowned couturier, Cristóbal Balenciaga
. Later, de la Renta left Spain to join Antonio Castillo
as a couture assistant at Lanvin
In 1963, torn between designing custom clothing for Elizabeth Arden, shoes and accessories and designing ready-to-wear for Christian Dior-New York, de la Renta turned for advice to Diana Vreeland, the Editor-in-Chief of Vogue, saying that what he really wanted was to "get into ready to wear, because that's where the money is". Vreeland replied, "Then go to Arden because you will make your reputation faster. She is not a designer, so she will promote you. At the other place, you will always be eclipsed by the name of Dior. De la Renta proceeded to work for Arden for two years before launching his own label.
He was one of the three major protégés of Baron de Gunzburg, the others were Bill Blass and Calvin Klein.
Awards, honors, philanthropic endeavors
De la Renta's talents receive continual international recognition. Among them, he received the CFDA Womenswear Designer of the Year Award
in 2000 and in 2008 (tied with Proenza Schouler). In February 1990, he was honored with the CFDA Lifetime Achievement Award
. From 1973 to 1976, and from 1986 to 1988, he served as President of the CFDA
. He is also a two-time winner of the American Fashion Critic's Award and was inducted into the Fame in 1973. In 1993 to 2002, Oscar de la Renta designed the haute couture collection for the house of Pierre Balmain, becoming the first Dominican to design for a French couture house.
The Dominican Republic has also honored him with the order al Mérito de Juan Pablo Duarte and the Order of Cristóbal Colón. De la Renta has contributed extensively in the construction of a much needed school near his home in Punta Cana.
De la Renta serves as a board member of the Metropolitan Opera, New York Opera House, Carnegie Hall, and Channel Thirteen/WNET. He also serves on the boards of several charitable institutions such as New Yorkers for Children, the America's Society and is presently chairman of the Queen Sofia Spanish Institute.
Even though his father was a US citizen, de la Renta was solely a Dominican citizen due to past United States
law prohibiting dual-citizenship. He renounced his Dominican citizenship in 1971, (a formality required by the US, given that Dominican citizenship is non-renounceable) when he was naturalized as a United States citizen. Although he was offered the post of Dominican ambassador to the United States, de la Renta refused to part with his newly acquired citizenship, and declined the nomination. Today he holds both a US and a Dominican passport.
In 1967, Oscar de la Renta became the third husband of Françoise de Langlade
(1931–1983), an editor-in-chief of French Vogue
who once worked for the fashion house of Elsa Schiaparelli
. She previously was married to businessman Jean Bruère and diplomat Nicholas Bagenow. After her third marriage, Françoise de la Renta worked as a consultant to Elizabeth Arden
, became a prominent hostess, had their Manhattan
apartment decorated by Denning & Fourcade
, and later opened her own decorating business (among her clients were Florinda Bolkan
and Helmut Berger
). Of her approach to fashion, she once said, "Oscar is not my favorite designer–just one of them." As The New York Times
noted after her death, "She was also widely credited for some of the successes of her husband, the fashion designer Oscar de la Renta. Although she was not active in his business, she attracted many of the rich and famous to his shows.
In 1989, the designer married Annette Reed (1939-). She is the former wife of American Heritage magazine publisher Samuel Pryor Reed and the only child of the German banker Dr. Fritz Mannheimer and his wife, Marie Annette Reiss.
De la Renta has stepchildren from both marriages; he also has an adopted son, Moises de la Renta.