On October 20, 2014, Oscar de la Renta passed away due to complications with cancer. His death hit the fashion industry hard causing an outpour of love with an overwhelming number of posts not only about his amazing work but also about his fun and loving personality. His favorite model Karlie Kloss said, "The world has lost one of the most extraordinary people who I have ever met. Thank you for helping me become the woman I am today and for always inspiring me to be better. There is simply no one like you." Diane von Furstenberg posted a picture of him with a microphone with the caption: "Oscar de la Renta singing this summer in Greece! He will continue to sing in our hearts! Goodbye Oscar, we love you!"
Oscar de la Renta was born in the Dominican Republic in 1932. His dream was to become an abstract painter so he attended the Academy of San Fernando in Madrid at the protest of his father. While there, he became enthralled by the world of fashion and got a job as an illustrator for the renowned Cristobal Balenciaga. After Balenciaga dragged his heels to promote de la Renta, Oscar left for Paris to get a job in the fashion capital. He went to see Antonio del Castillo at Lanvin for a job as an assistant. “He loved me because I spoke Spanish, and he asked me if I could cut, drape and sew, and of course I said yes,” de la Renta told Bernadine Morris, a former fashion reporter for The Times. “He offered me a little more money than Dior, and I said I would start in two weeks. Then I went to a fashion school and asked the woman who ran it if she could teach me the year’s course in two weeks.” His pluckiness and instincts with his career path served him well and by 1965, he created his own label at the suggestion of Diana Vreeland and by 1993 he made his debut as a couture designer in Paris, showing a collection for Pierre Balmain.
While Oscar de la Renta’s brand doesn’t have as much history as Burberry, his work couldn’t be more relevant. His dresses have remained favorites of celebrities and society women since his label’s founding in 1965. He has become a household name by dressing high-profile women like Nancy Reagan, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Emma Watson. He even designed Amal Alamuddin’s wedding dress for her marriage to George Clooney less than a year ago. He was highly respected by his peers throughout his career and served as the president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America from 1973 to 1976, and from 1986 to 1988.
Just a few days before his death, Oscar de la Renta finally named his successor, Peter Copping of the Nina Ricci house. The appointment was actually so close to his death that the two men never actually worked together. Many were apprehensive about Copping’s first show for the Oscar de la Renta label in February but Copping’s loyalty to the brand and their similar aesthetics for romantic silhouettes made the transition relatively seamless.
His success in the United States has been an inspiration for foreigners looking to live the American Dream as well. He was even an unofficial diplomat of the Dominican Republic and held a diplomatic passport. Oscar will be missed for his larger-than-life character cannot be survived by the brand alone.