Influential fashion icon and world-renowned designer Oscar de la Renta died at the age of 82 on Monday, October 20th in Kent, Connecticut, where he and his wife, Annette, resided. The Dominican designer has been at the forefront of the fashion industry for the past five decades – having dressed first ladies from Jacqueline Kennedy to Michelle Obama.
The immediate cause of death has still not been announced but De la Renta was diagnosed with cancer in 2006, though last year told the media that he was “totally clean” of the disease.
The sad news has created an outpour of tributes for the designer who had created friendships with both political and fashion professionals like former First Lady Laura Bush and Vogue’s Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour.
“He never once complained about his illness, always positive, always looking forward. His last words to me were I love you, and I said I love you back,” Anna Wintour writes on Vogue.com.
“We will always remember him as the man who made women look and feel beautiful,” former first lady Laura Bush said to CNN on Monday evening.
The award-winning designer began his passion for fashion and design at the Academy of San Fernando in Madrid, Spain. The then 17-year-old designer’s sketches were first noticed by the wife of the U.S. Ambassador to Spain, who then requested a dress to be made for her daughter’s debutante ball. The pictures of his design-come-to-life for the ball were sent to Life magazine and, from there, De la Renta’s career emerged.
Known for his ready-to-wear designs, De la Renta made the move to the Big Apple after getting a coveted spot to work with Elizabeth Arden. From there, the designer went on to be the first Dominican to become the creative director for a French fashion house at Balmain.
Even with his passing, the Santo Domingo native’s legacy will live on with his fashion house, which will debuting their first collection in New York in February.
One of De la Renta’s most recent and highly-acclaimed designs was for human rights lawyer Amal Alammudin and Hollywood’s once most-eligible bachelor, George Clooney’s wedding in Venice, Italy last month.
The most recent accomplishment before the designers passing took place at the Council of Fashion Designers of America Awards in 2013, where former first lady and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton presented De la Renta with the Founder’s Award aka the “Oscar” of the fashion world.
Along with his legacy, the designer leaves behind his wife, Annette de la Renta, an adopted son, Moises, and two step-children, Alex and Eliza Bolen, who currently run his fashion house.