Guest Author - Valerie Aguilar
Oscar de la Renta rose to fame in the early 1960s as couturier to the elegant first lady, Jaqueline Kennedy. Since that time he has designed gowns for numerous first ladies including Nancy Reagan, Betty Ford, Laura Bush and the famous teal pantsuit for Hilary Clinton. Countless European royals have worn Oscar de la Renta gowns to the grand fetes and galas over the last half-century. The client list of Oscar de la Renta includes Oprah Winfrey, Barbara Walters, Cameron Diaz, Beyonce and Sarah Jessica Parker. In the spring of 2008 Oscar de la Renta was the choice to dress First Daughter Jenna Bush at her wedding.
Most known for his red carpet gowns, evening dresses and bridal gowns, Oscar de la Renta has adorned some of the most beautiful and famous women in the world for the most important occasions of their lives. His designs are often breath-taking, and always feminine, sexy and in perfect taste. At the 2013 CFDA Fashion Awards, Hilary Clinton said of Oscar de la Renta, “'His name alone evokes elegance and timeless beauty. And his designs give each of us a chance to feel like we're special, too.”
Óscar Arístides Ortiz de la Renta Fiallo was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic in 1932 to a Dominican mother, María Fiallo and a Puerto Rican father, Óscar Avenides de la Renta. Mr. de la Renta’s family is very prominent in the society of Santo Domingo. The Fiallo family includes a long history of poets, scholars, businessmen and important military figures. Mr. de la Renta’s uncle, Arístides Fiallo was a true academic who earned every degree granted by the University of Santo Domingo. Fabio Fiallo, another of de la Renta’s uncles was a diplomat and poet. His great- great-grandfather José Ortiz de la Renta was the first mayor of Ponce, Puerto Rico elected by popular vote in 1812 and was re-elected seven times. With his prominent pedigree, it is no surprise that Mr. de la Renta dominates his field of fashion.
In 1946 de la Renta went to Spain to study art where he soon developed a fascination with the art of fashion. He began sketching designs for Spanish fashion houses which led to an apprenticeship with Cristóbal Balenciaga. Then de la Renta went to Paris to work for the house of Lanvin and later moving to the house of Arden. In 1965 he went to work for the house of Jane Derby. Jane Derby was an American fashion icon from the 1930s to 1965. When Derby died de la Renta took over the fashion line using the label “Óscar de la Renta for Jane Derby” but soon changed it to his name.
In the Dominican Republic, Oscar de la Renta contributed to the building of two schools with integrated orphanages and day-care centers. The approximately 1,500 children going to these schools come from diverse disadvantaged circumstances. These schools are special as they provide services for the deaf, mute and the blind. The schools provide good meals, medical and dental care and Proper meals, medical and dental facilities and the compassionate staff who assure the health and welfare of the children.
Oscar de la Renta has received numerous awards for his designs and for philanthropy including France's most illustrious honor, Commander in the Legion d'Honneur for his titanic contributions to fashion, the arts and charitable foundations. In the United States, de la Renta serves on the boards of The Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall, Thirteen/WNET (the public television station of the New York City tri-state area and the most-watched public television channel in the nation) and New Yorkers for Children, the Americas Society and the Spanish Institute. He is also on the board of cultural organizations such as the Americas Society and The Spanish Institute.
The Dominican Republic has also paid tribute to de la Renta as one of its most illustrious native sons with the order al Merito de Juan Pablo Duarte and the order of Cristobal Colon. In 1996, de la Renta accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Hispanic Heritage Society and in 2000 he marched down Fifth Avenue as Grand Marshal of New York City’s Hispanic Day Parade. In 2000, de la Renta received the Gold Medal of Bellas Artes from the King and Queen of Spain.