A (small and belated) tribute to Oscar de la Renta

Oscar de la Renta, one of the most celebrated and revered fashion designers of the last 50 years, passed away on October 20, 2014. Since I read of his passing, aged 82, I have been thinking of him and how desperately he will be missed as he was truly one-of-a-kind.

The irrepressible and irreplaceable Oscar de la Renta

His creations can only be described in variations of feminine elegance: ladylike; polished; poised; luxurious; ethereal; stylish; refined; classic; often opulent, never ostentatious, always exquisite. OdlR had a fondness for intricate beadwork, lace, tulle, nipped waists and waspish shapes. He loved colour, crisp whites, tweeds and caftans. Parrots were a favourite animal, recurring through many of his prints and accessories. If you wanted to look like a woman in charge of her life, her work, her sexuality, her femininity, you wore Oscar de la Renta.

Looking through his archives on Vogue, I found it so hard to pick a particular season that stood out as being my favourite because they are really all so very magnificent. Instead, I have selected some beautiful outfits from a handful of seasons, to give you an idea of the genius of his work (and let me tell you, it was hard to narrow these down; to do a collection justice I urge you to look at them all in full!).

Oscar de la Renta Spring 2014, look 11. Source: Style.com

Oscar de la Renta Pre-fall 2011, look 30. Source: Style.com

Oscar de la Renta Pre-fall 2013, look 26. Source: Style.com

Oscar de la Renta Pre-fall 2012, look 18. Source: Style.com

Oscar de la Renta Pre-fall 2014, look 8. Source: Style.com

Oscar de la Renta Fall 2012, look 17. Source: Style.com

Oscar de la Renta Spring 2013, look 26. Source: Style.com

Oscar de la Renta Pre-fall 2011, look 59. Source: Style.com

Oscar de la Renta Spring 2014, look 45. Source: Style.com

There have been some amazing online tributes to his life and his work and I encourage you to read some here, here, here and here (and of course, see the GFY mini retrospective here). You don’t have to have a discerning eye to realise that his work was superb and his talent immense. When you wear OdlR, you feel like the best version of you, albeit the most feminine, pretty and assured version of you. His skirt suits are the antithesis to the staid, boring Wall Street banker uniform; his ball gowns are always grand and statement-making; his dresses are always pretty and prim; his pants are made for swanning from your super-yacht to your quaint chalet. Even though his price points are not accessible for most women (hence why all my pieces are sourced from eBay), his clothes can be worn by all women because they are ageless, timeless, classic.

The future of OdlR has been ensured with the recent appointment of a creative director to his label (Peter Copping, most notably of Nina Ricci), and I will watch eagerly to see how the label grows and evolves, hopefully without ever losing the elegant and joyous ethos that Oscar himself lauded.

The day after his passing, I must admit I began madly scouring eBay for some of his special pieces. I own pieces of his intricate and effortless knitwear, a jewel tone skirt, a stunning emerald green dress (as aforementioned, all sourced from eBay). In my buying frenzy, I purchased a taupe cashmere A-line skirt from the Fall 2007 collection for $49 (you can see some OdlR wool skirts here and here for about 30 times that price) and a navy tweed, silk trim blazer from the Resort 2010 collection for $120 (and here are some OdlR tweed blazers here, here and here for about 25-30 times that price).

Oscar de la Renta Fall 2007, look 14. The skirt shown here is in black and I have just purchased from eBay the taupe version. Source: Style.com

Oscar de la Renta Resort 2010, look 12. I purchased the jacket from eBay and think it will pair perfectly with red or jeans or crisp white… Source: Style.com

As soon as I receive the jacket I will dedicate a post to it, I cannot wait to get it! I’d love to know your thoughts on what it might look best with…

In the meantime, I will leave you with this little gem from the great man: “My job as a designer is to make a woman feel her very best”. And you have succeeded so well at that Mr. de la Renta. You will be greatly missed.


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