Dominican American fashion designer Óscar Arístides Renta Fiallo died on the 20th of October 2014 at the age of 82 from cancer.
De la Renta became internationally known in the 1960s as one of the couturiers who dressed Jacqueline Kennedy.
An award-winning designer, he worked for Lanvin and Balmain. born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, to a Dominican mother, Carmen María Antonia Fiallo, and a Puerto Rican father, Óscar Avelino De La Renta, owner of an insurance company on the 22nd of July 1932, he was the youngest of seven children and the only boy.
At the age of 19, he went to study painting in Spain at the Academy of San Fernando in Madrid. For extra money, he drew clothes for newspapers and fashion houses.
After Francesca Lodge, the wife of John Davis Lodge, the U.S. Ambassador to Spain, saw some of his dress sketches, she commissioned de la Renta to design a gown for her daughter.
The dress appeared on the cover of Life magazine that fall.
He quickly became interested in the world of fashion design and began sketching for leading Spanish fashion houses, which soon led to an apprenticeship with Spain’s most renowned couturier, Cristóbal Balenciaga. He considered Cristóbal Balenciaga his mentor.
In 1967, de la Renta became the third husband of Françoise de Langlade (1921–1983), an editor-in-chief of French Vogue who once worked for the fashion house of Elsa Schiaparelli.
They were married until she died of cancer in 1983. After her death, de la Renta adopted a boy from the Dominican Republic and named him Moises.
While de la Renta expanded his lines and took them in a new direction in the 1990s, his pieces remained feminine and flattering.
By the late ’90s and early 2000s, his work became the preferred wear of American first ladies.
He dressed first lady Nancy Reagan in the 1980s, and then provided the gowns for inaugural events for both Hillary Clinton in 1997 and Laura Bush in 2005.
In 1989, the designer married Annette Engelhard (born 1939), daughter of Franz Mannheimer and his wife Jane née Reiss, and adoptive daughter of her mother’s second husband, Charles W. Engelhard, Jr. De la Renta had stepchildren from both marriages.
His son-in-law Alex Bolen currently operates as Chief Executive Officer and stepdaughter Eliza Bolen serves as Vice President of Licensing at Oscar de la Renta, LLC. Besides his passion for haute couture, de la Renta has been a tireless patron of the arts.
At one time or another, he has served on the boards of The Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall and Channel Thirteen/WNET.
He also supports several cultural institutions, including New Yorkers for Children, the Americas Society and the Spanish Institute.
In 2002, de la Renta added his name to a whole new business venture: furniture.
His 100 pieces for Century Furniture featured dining tables, upholstered chairs and couches. In 2004, despite the risk of lessening the value of his brand as a whole, he added a less expensive line of clothing called O Oscar.
He said he wanted to attract new customers whom he could not reach before.