As you may have seen, Oscar de la Renta has died. We couldn’t let a titan of all things gorgeous pass without remembering some of our favorite pieces this extraordinary person put into the world. It’s not a comprehensive list — it could be a hundred slides and it wouldn’t be enough — but we picked out some of our favorite runway and red-carpet looks from the years we both wrote about his work on GFY, and were lucky to cover his runway shows.
For more in-depth tributes, I encourage you to look at the wonderful and more wide-reaching retrospectives from WWD, and from our colleagues at The Cut, who also wrote a lovely piece called Oscar de la Renta Loved Powerful Women. Finally, I recommend this wonderful piece from Robin Givhan, who I hope keeps writing forever. A small excerpt, but you should read the entire thing: “…de la Renta represented a kind of old-school fashion with its emphasis on propriety, elegance and good taste. And while he helped to democratize fashion, he held on to a fundamental belief in an almost civic responsibility to be appropriately attired. It was good manners, after all. But even in retaining a certain decorum, he never allowed his vision to grow old or irrelevant. He could wow an audience with his draping technique. He could dazzle with his sense of color. But mostly, his aesthetic sensibility was predicated on the simple notion that women — all women — want to look pretty.”
On a personal level, Oscar is always one of the highlights, if not the highlight, of Fashion Week for us. It’s the kind of visual feast where your heart is in your throat the whole time, because whenever that last dress comes down the runway it will always feel too soon. In fact, some of my most wonderful Fashion Week moments happened at OdlR — the time I was late, and ended up watching the show standing in the photo pit on a sandbag next to Andre Leon Talley (also tardy); the time Anna Wintour brought Roger Federer, the day after he won the US Open, and the crowd gave him a standing ovation; the time I found myself, to my delight, sitting right behind Mr. Valentino; and, most of all, the first Oscar show I ever went to, where my seat was well in the back, but from which I had a perfect view of Mr. de la Renta himself, giving every single model a look-over before they walked onto the runway. I must have watched more of him than I did of the show, and I felt incredibly, deeply lucky to do it. This is the end of an era, and as I said on Twitter when the news broke, the world is forever less elegant for this loss.
So, tremendous condolences from the GFY family to the OdlR one — and from what we’ve witnessed, it is indeed a family (“At the last runway show in September, they all seemed to be holding back emotions — but when Mr. de la Renta came out for his bow, they were all wiping their wet eyes. They must have known, and how heart-rending it must have been to watch him effectively say goodbye” — H). Their graciousness and class extends from the New York HQ right on through to the Oscar de la Renta store here in Los Angeles, where the women were beyond lovely when I accompanied a friend as she shopped for her wedding dress several years ago. My friend did end up wearing Oscar on her wedding day, and she looked perfect. In that way, for woman all over the world, Mr. de la Renta will be here for eternity.
[A brief technical note: we’re currently having issues with slide titles. If yours don’t appear to have dates on them, or appear to be truncated in a weird way, refreshing the page should resolve the issue. Apologies for the aggravation and thank you for understanding.]
[Photos: Getty, INF, Pacific Coast News, Splash, Fame/Flynet]