|Fashion designer Oscar de la Renta (1932-2014)|
Manners never go out of style, and for that reason Oscar de la Renta, a great fashion designer who was also big on manners, will forever be remembered as a style icon. I came to witness first-hand the man’s elegance, reflected in both his demeanour and his drop-dead gorgeous dresses, on more than one occasion. As The Globe and Mail’s fashion reporter, I interviewed him in Toronto in 2002 at Canadian launch of his fruity-floral perfume, Intrusion by Oscar de la Renta. He autographed the modernist bottle for me. I also travelled to New York several times to attend his fashion shows, writing about them for my paper’s Style section. I remember one of the them vividly, both for what went down the runway and for what was happening behind the scenes. The gossip first.
The Dominican-born designer who became an American citizen in the 1969, dressed Hollywood stars (Nicole Kidman, Penelope Cruz, Sarah Jessica Parker), American first ladies (Jackie Kennedy, Nancy Reagan, Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama) and wealthy socialites (Nancy Kissinger and Lady Lynn de Rothschild). He was the Oscar who owned the Oscars; his gowns dominated the red carpet. Just before his death on October 20 at age 82, he had designed the wedding dress worn by Amal Alamuddin at her September wedding to heartthrob George Clooney. Oscar de la Renta was always relevant, always au courant. Which would explain why his shows were standing-room only affairs. Even to be seen at an Oscar de la Renta show was enough to make the participant seem a part of fashion. A-listers wanted to be seen in the front row to make their own stylish selves be known through association. Not that C.Z. Guest needed to have tried so hard.