Oscar de la Renta: Life is a Red Carpet

by Alev Gefen

When you hear the words “red carpet fashion”, a few eminent faces spring to mind. When you hear “Oscar”, the name is more than a prestigious awards gala. It is a man. It is a way of life. He is Oscar de la Renta Not a single Hollywood occasion passed without the late great Joan Rivers asking, “Who are you wearing?” We always could count on at least one star to claim proudly, “Oscar de la Renta!” Joan Rivers will be posing her trademark question again on the blue carpet in Heaven, as the glamour guru joined her and other legends on Monday, October 20, 2014.

He had a flare for capturing joie de vivre in his collections. From vibrant hues and airy sleeves. The glamour guru’s attitude was always that of relishing every moment and going with the flow, as if it were no big deal. Even about his career, he once stated, “Somebody might ask, ‘What is Oscar de la Renta? And you could say, ‘It’s a pretty dress.’” Indeed, it is a pretty dress that many women (myself included) would feel honored to wear. Oscar de la Renta gave us the juicy side of haute couture, while always eager to hear the juicy details of gossip in the fashion industry.

Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic, was de la Renta’s cradle in 1932; Madrid became his creative nurturer in 1951. Flamenco dancers and their flamboyance fed the creative edge, as he sketched for fashion houses and newspapers. 1956 was the year that Ambassador to Spain, John Davis Lodge, and his wife Francesca Lodge put the aspiring designer on the map: His dress for their daughter Beatrice made the cover of Time Magazine.

Balenciaga’s gentle rejection only nudged de la Renta closer to international stardom, as he was offered a job at Dior. The big break came with Lanvin, as de la Renta joined the company’s head designer Antonio del Castillo. (A two-week crash course in fashion with Bernadine Morris is all it took!) From his debut in 1993 for Pierre Balmain to the latest project on Amal Alamuddin’s (Mrs. George Clooney) wedding dress.

Oscar de la Renta knew glamour. He created, every step of the way. He will continue to grace the red carpet, as well as our hearts.

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