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. The designer who made an indelible mark on fashion, style and dazzling haute couture, passed away this past Monday at the age of 82.
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 was also one of our finest. For more than 50 years, he was the go-to guy for celebrities (Oprah Winfrey, Sandra Bullock, Cameron Diaz) and first ladies (Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Nancy Reagan, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush, Michelle Obama)--especially for big, big occasions like Oscars and inaugural balls. He even designed Amal Alamuddin's French lace gown when she married George Clooney last month.
De la Renta was the master of swathing women in silk-taffeta and chiffon masterpieces that felt 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."
This past July more than 60 of de la Renta's stunners were 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 ran until earlier this month. The exhibit included gowns he made for Laura Bush, Nancy Reagan and Hillary Clinton. Also on display were Jenna Bush's organza wedding dress, and the elaborate pale-blue Cinderella-esque ball gown that Amy Adams wore.
To honor Oscar de la Renta's extraordinary life, look at some of the designer's most glamorous creations. Click on this story in Parade to see who dazzles in Oscar de la Renta.