Sean Connery does it for some people. He is one of those timeless men that women of all ages still find swoonable. (Is swoonable a word? Well, if not, it should be). Some people felt that way about Richard Burton back in the day, or Lawrence Olivier. Somehow, and for some reason, there are some men who break the sexiness age barrier. Paul Newman, Cary Grant and Charlton Heston all had that ageless IT factor. But for me, there is just something about Oscar de la Renta...
But I'm not the only one who finds Mr. De la Renta swoon worthy. "Comet on the American Style Scene" “Sultan of Suave" “Couture Conquistador" “Guru of Glamour” "the Julio Iglesias of fashion" are just a few of the terms that fashion editors and the press have used to describe Oscar de la Renta over the years.
Yes, it's true, he wears hand tailored shirts, custom suits, and even has his shoes handmade in France, but it's not just the clothes that make the man. I admire and respect Mr. De La Renta for valuing hard work, patience, high standards and integrity in an industry that often forgets the importance of those virtues.
Born Oscar Aristides Ortiz Renta Fiallo in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, he was raised in a family of 7 children (6 of whom where girls). Oscar de la Renta started out as an art student in Madrid and eventually fell into the fashion world when he started selling fashion illustrations as a way to earn money. He eventually landed a job working for Cristobal Balenciaga in Madrid.
"I just learned by looking and observing. He was like God to me. " Oscar de la Renta on Cristobal Balenciaga. *
From Balenciaga in Spain, he went to Paris where he worked as an assistant to Antonio del Castillo at Lanvin-Castillo. In 1963, he moved to Manhattan to work as the designer for Elizabeth Arden.
Ahead of his time, he saw that women's fashion future was in ready to wear, but was unable to convince Elizabeth Arden to take that route. So in 1965, he left Arden and went to design for Jane Derby and when Derby died that same year, he took over the label.
Every first lady has worn Oscar de la Renta from Jacqueline Kennedy through Laura Bush, and his list of celebrity clients is much too long for one blog post. He has won just about every fashion award possible and has been honored by philanthropies, given honorary degrees and has served on boards of charitable organizations. It seems that at some point, an average man would have realized that he had "done it all" and slowed down, but Mr. de la Renta is no average man, and shows no signs of retiring so far. Even after a recent bout with cancer, he continues to be directly involved in the design process.
"They made statements without being noisy." Liza Minelli on Oscar de la Renta's evening gowns. *
"Everything Oscar does is feminine, romantic and appropriate. He's not out there trying to be revolutionary, he just wants his clothes to be extremely attractive, and appropriate without being 'old.' If you look through his collection, he has a signature: 'Beautiful Clothes.'" Anna Wintour, editor and chief of Vogue. *
"Women can learn a lot about themselves when they think of clothes in terms of role-playing. You are, after all, exercising your sense of fantasy." Oscar de la Renta. *
"You can be having dinner with Oscar and the Clintons, and he’s a vivacious host who takes care of everything. Then, after the meal, he’ll go back into the kitchen and play dominoes with everyone who prepared the meal.” Anna Wintour *
"Oscar doesn't even understand what bad taste is." CZ Guest
Oscar de la Renta designed for the House of Balmain from 1993 until 2002. Since then, his label has introduced bridal wear, a perfume, accessories, home furnishings, and he even designed a boutique hotel - Tortuga Bay, at PUNTACANA Resort and Club. One of the many things I respect about Oscar de la Renta is that he didn't sell his label to a fashion conglomerate. As a matter of fact, his son-in-law Alex Bolen currently operates as Chief Executive Officer, and his step-daughter Eliza Bolen serves as Vice President of Licensing, at Oscar de la Renta, LLC. He still maintains control over his brand and that is most likely the reason why the quality of his designs has been so consistent over the years.
Oscar de la Renta loves women - you can tell that from the way he makes them look and feel in his clothing. He designs clothing that women want to wear and feel beautiful wearing. His designs aren't ego boosters for him,, or huge statements about sociological or political issues.They, in some way, are a lot like Oscar himself -
TIMELESS yet modern
BEAUTIFUL while being sophisticated
ELEGANT but accessible.
It seems that Oscar and his clothing have another thing in common - they both still make me swoon!
"I design clothes for women to wear. I'm not interested in shock tactics. I just want to make beautiful clothes." Oscar de la Renta *
Enjoy the slideshow below that features some of de la Renta's earlier designs here!
"I always say this: live, love, and laugh. A huge mistake we make is forgetting that one day we will die. We think that we are going to live forever. I always say life is a little like a garden. There is a time to plant, then a time you have to weed. Just think about people you’ve deeply cared for. And then think of the people you wish you’d spent more time with. Or about the things you had loved and whether you’d given enough time to them." Oscar de la Renta (*)