Oscar de la Renta, Iconic Fashion Designer, Passes Away at Age 82

There are all of these different portals through which brave, naive eyes enter into the world fashion. Some come by accident, others by default. It’s an industry that can feel unfamiliar or overwhelming, but there are certain designers whose creations make you feel like you made the right decision; that you belong. Oscar de la Renta, who passed away last night at 82, made people feel like they belonged.

His house has represented high society, uptown dressing, black tie formality and marvelous American women, but these things were never alienating because Mr. de la Renta was warm. He was a gentleman, a true talent, a legend, and an icon.

He changed the face of American fashion, proving couture capability in a market largely run by sportswear. And he never compromised his vision. He continued to marvel in hand-sewn appliqués and embroidery deployed from the depths of who knows where until the last moment.

And his spirit: he was full of life, like a little kid in it for the fun. And that’s what his clothes did, right? They had fun. They ensured the wearer had fun. Mr. de la Renta made beautiful, gigantic gowns that were unapologetically noisy. He never shied away from volume. The embroidery was thick, shoes bold. His pantsuits seemed to beg for the addition of a turban, maybe a cocktail ring or costume earrings. His women played dress up each time they wore his clothes.

Dress up. That’s another portal through which many of us entered his world. Because each season, when the house lights turned down and the runway turned on, and the first model marched out in a confident, chin-up strut, Oscar de la Renta — the man and his clothes — reminded every woman, from every portal, “You belong.”

His departure is tragic. Fashion will never be the same. His absence will feel forever present in the industry that he helped define, and yet he leaves behind a legacy of successors, of young designers, of women and men who grew up admiring him. In no way will he be forgotten; his gowns will carry on.

Edited by Leandra Medine

Photo by Stuart Ramson/Associated Press via the New York Times, Runway Images via Style.com

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  • I was saddened to read about Mr de la Renta’s passing away. What a legend! Amelia, I think you’ve captured one of his greatest qualities; his ability to inject warmth and even humour into his work, while staying true to an inimitable and inspiring vision.

  • Royal Wang
  • This is such a sad news…


  • So sad! I heard about this right before bed. He was such a nice guy.


  • Emma

    We have truly lost one of fashion’s greatest legends. Rest in peace Oscar de la Renta. xx

  • Beautiful tribute, Amelia Diamond. Much appreciated.

    Mr. de la Renta projected charisma and charm. He had old-fashioned sensibilities, which seem a derogatory quality today. But in this fast-paced, ever-changing cultural and fashion climate, it was nice to know that after all of the adjustments, the experimentation, de la Renta would be there to make the gowns and clothe the sophisticate — even as she,too, changed.

    He will be missed.

  • Great tribute, he will be missed, but his legend will live forever

  • Angie

    Great loss for our country (Dominican Republic) and definitely for the fashion world….RIP Don Oscar de la Renta you sure will be missed!

  • R.I.P to Mr De La Renta. He will forever be missed.


  • ashli

    so heartbreaking,
    my first real foot in the door in NYC was at Oscar with Erika, and actually, my most embarrassing moment to date happens to be with Oscar. I was a measly 22-year-old straight from Missouri girl, standing in the hallway in my new outfit i bought for my first day when he walked by and said “looking beautiful today!” and i stared at him and said “sflkjasfhjasfjdflnvdjksbveliusayr” …not one single full word. he nodded and smiled and patted me on the shoulder and continued on…he was such a warm presence and such a lovely soul. i wish i knew him more than our little moment in the hallway, but it’s still mine to treasure.

  • lavieenliz

    He was such a talent and one of the greats. It’s such a tragedy to see him go!



  • Beautifully written, Amelia. He was a truly special person. So sad…

  • This is honestly devastating, he is and always will be a legend 🙁



  • Rosaly

    My heart is so sad! </3

  • Lovely tribute, Amelia. His warmth truly was infectious, and his legacy will forever influence us.

    RIP Mr. de la Renta. Thank you for inspiring the world by epitomizing glamour through your out of this world designs.


  • leChat

    So, NOW what’s Hollywood supposed to wear on the red carpet ?

    What a loss of a timeless classic.

    RIP, Senor de la Renta …

  • MargaretInArabia

    Fabulous tribute to a legend.

  • Beautifully said. His gowns are iconic, and a true legend never truly dies. Oscar de la Renta will live on in his clothes.

  • It is always so sad when a great talent passes… R.I.P. Oscar, you will be missed… http://www.LEZU.com