An ode to Oscar de la Renta

To mark the passing of the master of elegance, features editor Karien Slabbert takes a look at couture king Oscar de la Renta’s many talents

Image credit: Architectural Digest

The fashion icon, often dubbed as ‘the father of American fashion’, passed away on 21 October the age of 82.

He spent most of his career, which spanned half a century, dressing high society. Everyone, from First Ladies and actresses to models and ‘it’ girls wanted to be dressed by Oscar de la Renta. His distinctly feminine designs embraced the female form at a time when androgyny was taken to a new high (or shall we say low). Indeed, De la Renta was never one to follow the crowd and stuck to what he believed.

The wedding gowns he designed are legendary – one of his final commissions, some say his last grand stand, was designing George Clooney’s bride Amal Alamuddi’s jewel of a dress. So are all the evening gowns he designed for generation after generation of Hollywood stars.

Image credit: Oscar de la Renta

I loved Oscar for more than the constant stream of jaw-dropping garments he produced throughout hiscareer. His sense of style turned everything he touched into gold (with touches of ‘Oscar’ blue of course).

The superstar couturier’s garden in the Dominican Republic (one of my favourites ever) is no different.

“You know, I am a control freak, so I like to move everything around,” he said of this piece of paradise in his native country. Laid out in a simple grid that draws on lessons from the great Russell Page, it’s the stuff dreams are made of. Architectural Digest magazine describes it perfectly as “a rippling sea of green that tosses up a raft of colour every now and then – purple petrea, yolk-yellow night-blooming jasmine and jade vine…”

With a gardener’s green fingers and a couturier’s eye, he crafted a magnificent space.
Image credit: Architectural Digest

It was only natural that De la Renta merge his love for gardening and design in his homeware ranges. His ability to bring his creative vision to life made women and homes look their best.

Inspired by classic garden architecture, this Oscar de la Renta for The New York Botanical Garden plate is one of my favourites.

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Another favourite is the line of carpets and dhurries he designed Image credit:

Just look at the floral pattern on this tablecloth fabric… Image credit:

For me, Oscar de la Renta‘s effortless style and unique creative vision are personified in one of his most famous quotes: “It’s not about what you wear, but how you live your life.”