Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Remembering an American Legend

Oscar de la Renta | 1932-2014

Celebrating the legacy he has left behind, here is a look back at the designers accomplishments, quotes and gorgeous features in VOGUE magazine; elegant, romantic and always chic. 

As of last night, Tuesday October 20, 2014, the industry lost one of its greats, but Oscar de la Renta will never be forgotten. Passing away at the age of 82 after a long and dignified battle with cancer, the designer leaves behind a legacy.

He's dressed countless First Ladies, and stood his ground on their involvement and impact on the fashion industry, especially when Michelle Obama wore Alexander McQueen to a White House state dinner for Chinese President Hu Jintao. The designer stated, "This is an important issue. Do you think Kate Middleton is going to be married in Marc Jacobs? Mrs. Obama does look great. She should take that and do something. She could do a great good for our industry. We need to create jobs here, create jobs on Seventh Avenue, too." And so, without going unheard, in recent events Obama made up for this frowned upon fashion faux pas wearing ODLR to a 'Fashion Education Workshop' at the White House.
With a keen eye for femininity in fashion, de la Renta's designs have been adored by the likes of key popular culture figures such as Sarah Jessica Parker, Jennifer Garner, and more recently Amal Alamuddin (Clooney) whose wedding gown was more than likely one of the last couture pieces the designer leaves behind. His signature: A tasteful extravagance, Parisian in aesthetic, with a dash of Latin punch.
Trained by Balenciaga, de la Renta found a breakthrough in his career in 1973 when he took part at an event called 'An Evening at Versailles'. Held to generate funds to refurbish the famous royal chateau just outside of Paris, the fashion extravaganza turned ultra-chic competition staged the scene where Oscar de la Renta would soon find his international recognition. Five French designers - Hurbert de Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent, Emanuel Ungaro, Andre Oliver and Christian Dior's then Marc Bohan, selected five American designers: Halston, Anne Klein, Bill Blass, Stephen Burrows and Oscar de la Renta to compete. Then referred to as an "American triumph," by WWD, de la Renta shocked everyone with his upbeat presentation taking the win and soon thereafter taking calls from all major New York department stores to stock his collections. From there, the rest is history.

Upon reading a statement the designer made to Fern Mallis at the 92Y in 2013, today, I discovered how similar the designer's outlook on life was to that of my Grandmother (Nonnie) who passed away two years ago in November, also after a long battle with cancer much like the designer himself. 
 "The only realities in life are that you are born, and that you die. You have to appreciate every single day that you're alive. Life is a little bit like a garden -- you have to find time to plant the seeds for beautiful flowers to grow. I'm having a fantastic time. But I must say that I would have never been able to go through what I went through without my family and wife."
Whilst we're sure to see an honourable dedication to the legacy left behind in the first collection that Peter Copping will churn out, who was officially named Creative Director of ODLR exactly one week back, the new member of the house will have big shoes to fill and surely an emotional presentation will soon be underway. 
Erika Bearman, better known as @OscarPRGirl, tweeted a link to Oscar de la Renta's homepage. There, scanned and posted to the site, is a simple, handwritten note addressed to "Colleagues" from "Alex and Eliza" -- CEO and son-in-law Alex Bolen and stepdaughter Eliza Bolen. The note can be read in full above and on the Oscar de la Renta homepage, alongside a picture of the designer captured behind the scenes before a show (Source: fashionista.com).

Oscar de la Renta | 1932-2014