About

the designers

In 1932 Oscar de la Renta was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, son of a Dominican Republic insurance agent and his wife.

From 1950 to 1952, he studied at the National School of Art, in Santo Domingo.

In 1952, he moved to Spain, and studied at the Academia de San Fernando, Madrid. He wanted to be a painter, and began sketching for leading Spanish fashion houses to pay for his art studies.

In 1956, Mrs John Lodge, the wife of the US Ambassador to Spain, saw some of his drawings and commissioned him to make a dress for her daughter Beatrice. Soon after, Oscar came to the attention of Cristobal Balenciaga, the famous designer, who took him on at his Eisa atelier in Madrid.

In 1961, he was hired as an assistant by Antonio del Castillo at the Lanvin-Castillo couture house in Paris. Following the same course as Castillo, de la Renta moved to New York in 1963 to design the custom-made collection at Elizabeth Arden.

In 1965 De la Renta moved to Jane Derby and when she died in 1969, he took over the firm and gave it his own name. During the sixties, he developed a reputation as a designer of extravagant, opulent yet tasteful clothes. He created a variety of theme collections based on fashions of the belle époque, abstract art prints, oriental inspired evening clothes and exotic flamenco dresses. His day clothes by comparison, were almost austere: little coats made lavish only by the fur trim.

In 1967 his Gypsy collection attracted a great deal of attention. His clothes had become ornate and witty, such as bejewelled hot pants worn under a silk mini-dress and coats made of bandanna-printed denim

In 1969 Djellabahs appeared, with scrolling Moroccan braid enhanced by pearls and gems.

Oscar married Francoise de Langlade in 1967. She was the editor-in-chief of French Vogue. She died in 1983. He married for the second time to Annette Reed in 1989 and they have a son Moises.

By the early seventies, his day clothes had become more casual. Although some of his soft chiffon evening dresses followed the current silhouette, he maintained his tradition of a close-fitting waist and a deep V-neckline.

In 1993 de la Renta was hired by the House of Pierre Balmain to design their couture collection, becoming the first American designer since Mainbocher to design couture in Paris, France. He designed for Balmain for nearly a decade, presenting his last collection in 2001.

In 1997 De la Renta launched his less-expensive line OSCAR designed for the working woman.

In the year 2001, the city of New York decided to honour American fashion designers by placing bronze plaques along 7th Avenue, the great street of fashion in New York. This has been called the "FASHION WALK OF FAME." Oscar de la Renta was one of those honoured.

19 year old Moises de la Renta, Oscar's son, is launching his own label, which will be a denim-based collection of womenswear, menswear and accessories. He will be asking his father for advice all the way, saying "he is my mentor as a father and a designer."

In July 2004, Oscar handed over the title of Chief Executive to his 36 year old son-in-law Alex Bolen, husband of Oscar's stepdaughter Eliza Reed Bolen. Alex has earlier worked with Donna Karan and Marc Jacobs. Oscar retains the title of Chairman, and will remain very active in all aspects of the business, not only design.

the label

Although Oscar continues to design all of the collections and remains Chairman, he handed over his previous title of Chief Executive to son-in-law Alex Bolen in 2004. In 1997 Oscar launched OSCAR by Oscar de la Renta, a high-end sports line for the working girl, and in fall 2004 he debuted O Oscar, a sportswear line for the masses, with all items retailing for less than $100. Although that line is currently on hiatus, the new brand president Maria Vaccaro is re-launching the line for spring 2006. It's this marked ability to straddle diverse markets and worlds that has ensured his continued success.

The Look

Luxurious ruffles, embroidery, ostrich-feathered eveningwear, and ornate beading and embellishments like buttons and metallic threads.

Who Wears It

Oscar's timeless pieces have no shortage of admirers. Sarah Jessica Parker favours his flirty feathered numbers while Beyonce Knowles and her stylist mother Tina Knowles go for the richly appliquéd pieces with beading and jewels. And, First Lady Laura Bush favors his suits. Sandra Bullock, Penelope Cruz

Perfumes

1976 Oscar de la Renta
1978 Oscar (W)
1980 Pour Lui
1983 Ruffles (W)
1989 Eau Active (W)
1992 Volupte (W)
1997 So de la Renta
1999 Oscar for men
2002 Intrusion (W)
2002 Oscar Tropical (W)
2003 Oscar Latin Light (W)
2004 Rosamor (W)
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