Chances are that Sarah Jessica Parker wouldn't ask most designers to prominently embroider their signature in bold red into the train of their white dress. But then again, most designers aren't Oscar de la Renta.
At this year's Met Gala, one of fashion's most important annual events and a key fundraiser for Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute, Parker made sure that reporters and photographers could see de la Renta's red scripted John Hancock was displayed in a big way on her milky white train. "Did you see his name on the back?" said the actress. "I said to Mr. de la Renta, please let me use scarlet embroidery thread, and splash your name across the back. It was my idea. He would never in a million years have done it -- he's far too modest."
The soft-spoken and elegant designer may be modest, but he's also one of our finest. For more than 50 years, he has been the go-to guy for celebrities (Oprah Winfrey, Sandra Bullock, Cameron Diaz) and first ladies (Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Nancy Reagan, Hillary Clinton, and Laura Bush) -- especially for big, big occasions like Oscars and inaugural balls.
De la Renta is the master of swathing women in silk-taffeta and chiffon masterpieces that feel more like pieces of art. As he has famously said, "There is no sound more feminine than a woman in a taffeta dress." His party dresses, with seemingly miles and miles of feather-embroidered tulle and fetching trains, continue to take our breath away. "This man has been working for more than 20 years to turn me into a fashion icon," remarked Hillary Clinton about her pal, who truly made her sparkle in 2001 when she wore his teal silk pantsuit while being sworn in as senator, and even before that made her shine in her 1997 inaugural ball gown. "Year in and year out, he's never given up."
In fact, this past Saturday, more than 60 of de la Renta's stunners went on display at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas in a retrospective called "Oscar de la Renta: Five Decades of Style," which runs until October 5. On display are gowns he made for Laura Bush, Nancy Reagan, and Hillary Clinton. There's also Jenna Bush's organza wedding dress, and an elaborate pale-blue Cinderella-esque ball gown that Amy Adams wore.
In honor of his 82nd birthday on July 22, look at some of the designer's most glamorous creations. Go to this Parade story to see who dazzles in Oscar de la Renta.