FILE - In this Sept. 11

Canadians hail de la Renta as fashion force

Canadians remember 'gracious' Oscar de la Renta as a force in fashion industry

  • Oct. 21, 2014 1:00 p.m.

By Lauren La Rose, The Canadian Press

TORONTO – Members of Canada’s fashion community lamented the loss of Oscar de la Renta on Monday, remembering the late designer as a warm, gracious man who ranked among the leading legends in the industry.

News of the Dominican-born American designer’s death at age 82 came as a shock to many Canadians gathered at an opening night party for homegrown brand Joe Fresh at Toronto’s World MasterCard Fashion Week.

“He was a force in American fashion,” said Derick Chetty, fashion director at Zoomer Magazine. “He was in his 80s but he’s worked so much. He’s dressed first ladies, he’s dressed American actresses, A-list actresses and it’s incredible. He stayed on top throughout his entire career.”

“Right until the very end, right up until his last collection, Oscar de la Renta knew how to make a woman look beautiful.”

With a career spanning more than a half-century, his brand encompassed ready-to-wear, fragrances, accessories and bridal wear. De la Renta’s ladylike creations have been a longtime favourite among the political and Hollywood elite, including actresses Sandra Bullock, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz and Sarah Jessica Parker. Michelle Obama recently donned a de la Renta design for the first time, following a fashionable path paved by wives of former U.S. presidents including Jacqueline Kennedy, Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush.

International human rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin recently wore a sweeping lace gown designed by de la Renta for her wedding to actor George Clooney, with the bride photographed at a dress fitting alongside the designer for U.S. Vogue.

De la Renta was no stranger to Canada, paying a visit to Toronto in 2010 for a charitable gala and runway show hosted by philanthropist Suzanne Rogers.

Fashion journalist Glen Baxter recalled following and documenting de la Renta when he was in Toronto for a show he was hosting called “A Day in the Life,” as the designer greeted customers and salespeople where his brand was carried. Baxter described de la Renta as a “warm, giving man” and “an incredible talent.”

“He was up there with the great designers,” he said. “He’s designed for some important people in the world and he would say that he loved women and he designed for women and he appreciated femininity and beauty.”

Womenswear designer David Dixon said de la Renta was one of the designers he had looked up to his entire life.

“The minute I figured out fashion was an industry and something you could do, Oscar de la Renta was always at the forefront of that. And I don’t think anyone can ever replace the mark that he’s made.”

Leesa Butler, founder and editor of The F-list, remembered de la Renta as a “very gracious man” who made a significant impact on the fashion industry.

“He brought the ladylike out of fashion. He really did,” she said. “He just embraced all of that, and so many designers after him, Carolina Herrera is one of them, I really felt fell into his footsteps. There are so many designers that really pulled from Oscar’s sense of classic sense femininity and beauty.”

De la Renta gave up the title of chief executive of his company in 2004, handing over business duties to stepdaughter Eliza Reed Bolen and her husband, Alex Bolen, but he remained active on the design end, continuing to show his collections during New York Fashion Week.

During an interview with The Canadian Press in 2010, de la Renta still showed no signs of slowing and said he saw every day as a learning process — even after 50-plus years in fashion.

“People ask me, ‘When are you going to stop doing what you’re doing?’ I say, ‘The day when I will think or say that I have learned it all, then (is) the day I should stop.”

Asked for words of advice for up-and-coming designers, de la Renta had a clear credo: Work hard, understand the consumer, and “don’t believe in your fame.”

“You become famous because your product becomes well-known. It’s not about yourself, it’s about what you do,” he said.

“It’s about women, in this particular case, identifying with you because they like what you’re doing. I think that’s what creates a brand.”

— With files from The Associated Press.

Follow @lauren_larose on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Man pleads guilty to stabbing woman, off-duty cop outside North Delta elementary school

The suspect, whose name is under a publication ban, faced 10 charges in relation to this incident

Surrey RCMP boss Brian Edwards on moving forward, and what keeps him awake at night

Edwards spoke with Now-Leader reporter Tom Zytaruk about what he’s learning and hopes to accomplish as Surrey’s top cop

PHOTOS: Cloverdale’s Coldest Night of the Year charity walk raises $125K

Annual event sees more than 500 walkers take part

All-Surrey battle for South Fraser boys basketball title

At Tamanawis, the top four teams will go to provincials

Hopes are for ‘focus on Surrey investments’ when Horgan speaks in March

Luncheon at golf course planned by Surrey Board of Trade

VIDEO: Illicit drug overdoses killed 981 in B.C. in 2019, down 38%

Chief coroner says figures were down about a third in the province’s fourth year of the opioid crisis

UPDATE: Protesters dismantle blockade on Maple Ridge tracks

West Coast Express train service is expected to run again Tuesday morning

VIDEO: B.C.’s seventh coronavirus patient at home in Fraser Health region

Canada in ‘containment’ as COVID-19 spreads in other countries

Motorists were ‘driving like their own Indy 500’ before fatal Abbotsford crash, court hears

Family member declares defence request for 90-day jail sentence a ‘joke’

B.C. takes over another Retirement Concepts senior care home

Summerland facility latest to have administrator appointed

RCMP pull office from Wet’suwet’en territory, but hereditary chiefs still want patrols to end

Chief says temporary closure of field office not enough as Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute drags on

Prescription opioids getting B.C. addicts off ‘poisoned’ street drugs

Minister Judy Darcy says Abbotsford pilot project working

Royals, Elvis, Captain Cook: Hundreds of wax figures find new life in B.C. man’s home

Former director of Victoria’s Royal London Wax Museum still hopes to revive wax figure tourism

Most Read

l -->