News & Runway

Designer Dossier: Oscar de la Renta

For just one minute, forget that Oscar de la Renta has an empire that rivals a small country, was one of Jacqueline Kennedy's personal courtiers, and continues to inspire the fashion world with each collection he brings to the table.

Instead, lets discuss Oscar's not so humble beginnings and extensive professional pedigree. Born and raised in Santo Domingo, The Dominican Republic, De la Renta counted diplomats, poets, and scholars as members of his family, an upbringing that helped develop his strong business acumen.

However, Oscar's educational background wasn't purely academic. explains that De la Renta "has often cited the tropical vegetation and the vibrant colour palettes of the island as inspiration for his striking designs." At the tender age of 18, Oscar left his native town to pursue art at The Academy of San Fernando in Madrid. Soon after, the young artist discovered his passion for fashion and sketching, which would eventually land him the covetable and life-changing apprenticeship with Cristóbal Balenciaga, Spain's most revered couturier at the time.

But that was only the beginning of De la Renta's impressive resume. De la Renta also worked at Lanvin as couture assistant and later as a designer at Elizabeth Arden (a spot that mentor and editor-in-chief of VogueDiana Vreeland helped him secure), where he created haute-couture gowns for the label's custom-made clothing. 

And just like everything else Vreeland touches, Oscar's stint at Elizabeth Arden would be life changing. As a result of the valuable contacts and knowledge Oscar accrued during at the brand, the Oscar de la Renta label was launched. What started out as a ready-to-wear line for women is now a global empire that counts a home line, a perfume line, an accessory line, and of course his bridal collection, which elevated the brand's success and name to a global level. Launched in 2006, Oscar de la Renta's Bridal collection changed the course of bridalwear in the fashion domain as well as in rest of the world. Discussing his bridal collection with, De la Renta said, "My designs are known for their beautiful ornamentation, details, fabrics, and embroideries – which are never more important than on a wedding dress." 

So just how does an iconic brand like Oscar de la Renta stay relevant in a culture where fashion trends die as quickly as they breed? For starters, the brand has reached out to younger generations by restyling their image both figuratively and digitally, upgrading their classic designs with a modern flair, and entering the social media sphere. Today Oscar de la Renta is one of the largest brands across social platforms like Facebook, Tumblr, and TwitterErika Bearman, Oscar de la Renta’s social media personality and senior vice president of marketing and communications, has attracted nearly 160,000 followers on Twitter under her OscarPRGirl moniker. In addition to reaching a younger demographic, the brand's social activities have helped boost sales.

For his Spring 2013 collection, Mr. De la Renta continued to show his ability to evolve as a designer while maintaining the integrity of his line. With edgier garments, De la Renta has combined a youthful attitude with the label's established elegance, creating a collection that challenged and diversified that way we view high end designs, classic silhouettes, and, of course, eveningwear.

Images via IMAXtree