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Fashion designer Oscar de la Renta dies at 82

Fashion designer Oscar de la Renta attends the official opening of The Costume Institutes new Anna Wintour Costume Center at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 5, 2014 in New York. (Photo: Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images)

Fashion designer Oscar de la Renta attends the official opening of The Costume Institutes new Anna Wintour Costume Center at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 5, 2014 in New York. (Photo: Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images)

(CNN) — Legendary fashion designer Oscar de la Renta has died, close friends of the family and industry colleagues said Monday.

He was 82.

Throughout his illustrious career, de la Renta dressed first ladies, movie stars and some of the world’s most famous brides.

His creations regularly graced red carpets and his name is one of the best known both in and outside of the industry.

He enjoyed more than five decades in the spotlight — putting high society in haute couture — from Jacqueline Kennedy to, most recently, George Clooney’s new bride Amal Alamuddin.

His creations were a staple on the red carpet and his name is one of the best known both in and outside of the fashion industry.

“He was a true, true gentlemen, in the truest sense of the word — a real bright light — and this is just a terrible, terrible loss for the fashion world,” said Alina Cho, fashion journalist and editor at large at Random House.

Just last week, Oscar de la Renta — the company — announced the appointment of Peter Copping as creative director.

“Our Industry has not always done the best job when it comes to changes in design leadership. My hope is that, in leading this selection, and actively participating in the transition, I can insure the right design future for our company and brand,” de la Renta said in a statement then.

The fashion designer was born in the Dominican Republic. His New York-based company was established in 1965.

Beginnings

Born July 22, 1932, in the Dominican Republic, he was the only son of seven children.

“My father had different aspirations for me than I had for myself,” he told the “Fashion Talks” audience. “If I ever told my father I would become a fashion designer, he would drop dead on the spot.”

He has often said that the vibrancy and the vegetation of the island colored his design sense.

At 18, he left for Spain to study art at the Academy of San Fernando in Madrid. For a time, he dabbled in abstract art. But fashion was his passion, he soon discovered.

After the wife of the U.S. Ambassador to Spain saw some of his dress sketches, she commissioned him to design a gown for her daughter.

The daughter and the dress appeared on the cover of Life magazine.

Emboldened, de la Renta switched his focus to fashion.

He landed an apprenticeship with Cristobal Balenciaga, who was at the time Spain’s most acclaimed designer. He often described that period as his seminal learning experience. “I was picking pins off the floor,” he joked.

Ascent

Next stop, and the obvious next step for a fashion designer: Paris.

De la Renta was in the fashion mecca on vacation. But within a day of his arrival, he was offered a job at the reputed fashion house, Lanvin.

He finessed his style, learned to tailor, and then moved to New York — where he became a designer for Elizabeth Arden.

It was the first step toward a career that would make him a fashion powerhouse.

 

 

 

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